Tulsa's Equality Center Holds Memorial For Lives Lost In Orlando Shooting

Monday, June 12th 2017, 10:42 pm
By: News On 6

One year after 49 people were shot and killed inside the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida, the Tulsa community came together to honor those who died with a candlelight vigil.

The shooting happened more than 1,200 away, but it deeply affected many lives here and even changed security protocol for LGBT events.

Candles dotted the room and prayers filled the air at Tulsa’s Equality Center as people gathered to remember and mourn.

"You know, it can happen anywhere, but you just don't think about something like that happening every day," Myca Hummel said.

It was around 2 a.m. June 12th, 2016, when gunman Omar Mateen walked into the Pulse Nigh Club in Orlando during "Latin Night" and started shooting.

Police said he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State while firing.

Toby Jenkins with Oklahomans for Equality said the Orlando shooting that left 49 dead changed the environment at LGBT centers across the country.

CBS News: Remembering the 49 lost in Orlando

"The world was shocked. LGBT centers got an awakening," he said. "It was a new reality for us, and it all stems back to the Pulse Nightclub shooting."

It drastically changed protocol at Tulsa’s pride festival this year.

"We had to beef up our security, our insurance demanded it. It went up significantly," Jenkins said.

For the first time in the event’s history, all bags were mandatory checked; a process that has become common policy at places like the BOK Center and the courthouse.

While new security measures since the shooting have become the reality, it's not stopping some from celebrating diversity and being public about it.

"People do these things out of hate, thinking they are going to tear us apart, but really what they do is they make our community stronger," Hummel said.

The Equality Center has been here for 12 years and was vandalized for the first time in March when someone drove by and shot at the window.

3/6/2017 Related Story: Vandals Target Tulsa's Equality Center Overnight