2016 Vigil for Orlando
The 2016 Vigil for Orlando was a public gathering and candlelight vigil to mourn the forty-nine victims of a mass shooting at an Orlando, Florida gay nightclub perpetrated the previous evening by Omar Mateen. It was held on the evening of June 13, 2016.
The gathering, which took place at Linn Park during Pride Week, was organized hastily by Central Alabama Pride (CAP) with help from Don Lupo, head of the Birmingham Office of Citizens Assistance. The evening of the vigil conflicted with a previously-planned Women of Soul event with DJs, food vendors and the 6th Avenue Sliders dance team from 6th Avenue Baptist Church. Lupo asked whether the organizers of that event would consider rescheduling due to the immediate need to hold a vigil, but they decided it was too late to do so and agreed to accommodate the vigil event by sharing their stage and public address equipment.
The vigil began at 6:00 PM with hundreds of people in attendance. The front steps of Birmingham City Hall were draped with CAP's oversize rainbow flag and colored floodlights were installed to illuminate part of the building after nightfall. Speakers included CAP president Kyle Pugh, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, Human Rights Campaign Alabama director Eva Walton and Ashfaq Taufique of the Birmingham Islamic Society, which had cancelled its evening's observance of Ramadan to participate in the vigil. Along with the speakers, the Steel City Mens Chorus performed Chad Weirick's arrangement of "You'll Never Walk Alone" and Chrys Black sang Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors".
After the speakers concluded, but before dusk fell, DJ Coco announced dance numbers and encouraged attendees to find the 6th Avenue Steppers to learn the dances. Many of those who had come to mourn were nonplussed by the turn of events. Participants in the candlelight vigil were ushered to the Jefferson County Courthouse side of the park to proceed with the vigil. Miguel Carpizo from Greater Birmingham Ministries and Alex Smith from AIDS Alabama read the names of the shooting's forty-nine victims. Afterward, attendees lit candles and began to process around the park. As the procession continued, the DJ music was turned back up.
- Thornton, William (June 13, 2016) "Rainbow flag displayed at City Hall in vigil for Orlando victims." The Birmingham News
- Cobb, J. Matthew (June 14, 2016) "Whose bright idea was it to turn a vigil into a party?" Birmingham Equinox
- Johnson, Roy S. (June 14, 2016) "After the vigil, Birmingham and our LGBT neighbors should begin healing, too." The Birmingham News