Today, our hearts are heavy. We are at a loss for words not because this loss is unfamiliar, but because it is all too familiar. Forty-nine people lost their lives and more than 53 were injured this weekend in a targeted attack and hate crime against the LGBTQ community, a community that is a frequent target of violent acts, hateful language, and harmful policies. As a society, we should have been able to keep them safe. And we can be sure that the victims in Orlando were not this weekend’s only victims of gun violence. Their lives—and deaths—matter, too.
As we process this tragedy, we’re still determining what our next steps are as an organization committed to health, safety, equity, and prevention. We know we must act, and we will. We know that the ways our communities are designed, the way our policies are constructed and our economy operates, affect whether our communities will be safe or unsafe. And we know that some individuals and communities are at greater risk of experiencing violence in all its forms. We recognize once again that our policies and norms around violence and guns leave us unsafe and must be changed. One way we start is to support policy change to take assault weapons off of our streets and limit access and availability of guns.
In the days and weeks to come, our country will face tough questions about how to move forward in the wake of the violence in Orlando. We must remain committed to resisting divisiveness, fear, and discrimination, which will never be a road to peace and safety. We must carry the message that violence is predictable and preventable. Moving toward peace and safety will require us to break down the barriers and inequalities that divide us—homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism—and we must pursue opportunities to heal our communities that have suffered undue burdens of violence, trauma, and discrimination.
At Prevention Institute, we are advocates, supporters, and members of the groups targeted in Orlando. Many of us are young, queer, and people of color. We stand with the victims, survivors, and their loved ones in Orlando, who have experienced unfathomable loss. We stand with the entire LGBTQ community, who face continued discrimination and violence with love, hope, and community. We also stand with the Muslim community, who are peaceful members of our families and our neighborhoods, and a vital part of the very fabric of our nation. We stand with Latino communities and communities of color, and especially those people and places most impacted by violence and trauma, and join the call for resources and policy change to ensure that all communities can be free from violence. And we stand with those who demand action.
We have the power to act—to trade hate, fear, and misunderstanding for love, acceptance, and community, just as we see so many people coming together to comfort and support one another in Orlando and across the country.