On June 12, 2016, a shooter named Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 more at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. This was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States at the time.
Pulse was a gay bar, and the shootings were widely understood to be an attack on the LGBTQ community. However, the occasion of the shooting was the nightclub’s Latin Night, and 23 of the 49 victims were from Puerto Rico.
National Memorial designation
A few days before the fifth anniversary of the event, Congress voted to designate the location of the nightclub as a national memorial. Former Florida Governor Rick Scott (R-FL), now a Florida Senator, introduced the bill in the Senate and Darren Soto (D-FL) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“Pulse was a peaceful haven where mostly young, mostly L.G.B.T.Q. Americans could enjoy music, dancing and celebration — a sense of community,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said at a ceremony celebrating the passage of the bill. “Our hearts break again, thinking of how this sanctuary of safety and solidarity was violated by this horrific act of hatred, leaving behind unimaginable pain in the Orlando community.”
Residential Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon also attended the ceremony. “The deep wounds caused by the tragedy that occurred five years ago at the Pulse Club in Orlando are still very much alive within the community and in all those who were marked in some way by this terrorist act and hate crime,” she said. “I am honored to be part of the designation of the Pulse Club as a national monument, as a place of remembrance for the victims of that atrocious attack on the LGBTQ community, where many of them were of Puerto Rican origin.”
The onePULSE Foundation, a nonprofit established by the former owner of the nightclub, is raising funds to create a memorial and museum to honor those who lost their lives. The bill designating Pulse as a memorial specifies that no federal funds will be used, and that the memorial will not be part of the National Parks system.