The deadliest mass shooting in the United States and the nation’s worst terror attack since 9/11 at an Orlando, Florida, gay night club was “an act of terror and an act of hate among multiple minorities intersecting the LGBTQA AND Latino-Hispanic communities,” Kerry Poynter, interim director of the Diversity Center at the University of Illinois Springfield, told about 150 gathered for a vigil Tuesday at the Public Affairs Center.
Staff of the UIS Diversity Center and LGBTQA Resource Office joined those holding candlelight vigils across the United States—and the world–this week in the wake of the shooting in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 12, which left 49 dead and 53 wounded.
UIS students and their friends, alumni, faculty and staff attended the vigil.
“We hope today at this vigil we can come together as a community and begin to process what has happened. And, maybe even motivate us to look at home and at UIS, and ask what kind of community are we wanting to create. I hope you will join me in building coalitions among seemingly disparate groups, whether LGBT, Muslim, Latino/Hispanic, people with disabilities and others,” Poynter said.
Citing a statement from the National LGBTQ Task Force, Poynter added, “ Despite this tragedy, it has also brought love, compassion and kindness from all corners of the world.
I hope all of us can take in that show of support . . . To show through our resolve through the beauty of who we are in all the ways we identify and show up in the world.”
Saying “we stand in solidarity with communities of color and all who fight for the collective right to pursue lives of dignity and self-determination, without fear of harm,” Poynter stressed,”We reject attempts to perpetuate hatred against our LGBTQ communities as well as our Muslim communities. We ask all people to resist forces of division and hatred, and to stand against homophobia and transphobia, as well as against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry. Tragedies often lead people to seek someone or something to blame, but we ask our friends to resist this temptation. Let us instead recommit ourselves to working toward a world without hatred and prejudice.”
Following his remarks and those of Associate Professor of Political Science Jason Pierceson and Interim Provost James Ermatinger, candles were lit, and the pictures of the 49 individuals killed were shown on a screen while Diversity Center staff read their names and remembrances posted by family and friends.
Noting the vigil was also an opportunity for those in attendance to share their thoughts, Poynter passed a microphone to anyone at the vigil who wanted to speak.
A recent UIS graduate, identifying himself as Muslim, decried the mass shooting, saying it did not represent true Islam and noting, “Any good religion or faiths talks of harmony.”
A trans man in attendance spoke about the importance of “not remaining afraid,” and as Poynter and other speakers did, cited the importance of moving ahead in solidarity and support.
More photos can be seen at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uisstudentaffairs/albums/72157669704476396
Article written by: Debra Landis, Student Journal Advisor
Photos by: Jeannie Capranica, Vice Chancellors office