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AFSC’s statement on June 12 tragedy in Orlando

A vigil for Orlando held in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 12.  Photo: Fibonacci Blue, Creative Commons / Flickr

The killing of 50 people and wounding of 53 more at Pulse, an LGBT club in Orlando, Florida, shakes us and breaks our hearts. The American Friends Service Committee joins with all who are grieving this tragic act of mass violence. Our thoughts, prayers, and sympathy are with the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives, all the neighbors in the Orlando area whose community was disrupted, and with the entire LGBT and Latino communities.

Already, we see politicians and news media stoking fear and hatred by generalizing the acts of one individual to all those of Muslim faith. Yet we know that this fear is misplaced. Intolerance and violence toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people is a culture-wide problem, evidenced by a wave of anti-LGBT legislation across the country, venomous rhetoric in the wake of recent victories for equality, and a shocking series of attacks on trans women of color. We fear the backlash following this mass shooting will land on immigrant communities who are repeatedly singled out for unmerited blame as threats. We stand with LGBT people, Muslims, immigrants living in the U.S., and all who are vulnerable in the wake of this attack and the hateful, xenophobic rhetoric that is already on display.

The American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization that addresses the root causes of violence and oppression in communities worldwide, knows that violent responses to violence make us all less secure. We must stop the cycle of hateful violence that lands disproportionately on marginalized people, including LGBT people of color. There is no place for xenophobic responses to this attack, which will only make the targeted communities more vulnerable. We must instead bridge differences and work together to reject hate. We pray that all communities will stand up against bigotry and work to ensure the rights of each and every person. Please join us in true partnership, working for a world in which love drives out hate, and in which all of us are safe from violence.

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