Latinos love to gather, celebrate and dance the night away. It is our way to express our feelings in a way that is both liberating and exhilarating. So there is no wonder why “Latin Night” at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL was so popular. The club was packed with LBGT Community members, mostly of Hispanic or Latino descent dancing the night away, feeling young, free uninhibited.
Their night was cut short by a gunman who came in guns blazing and killed 49 people before it was all said and done. Florida has an ever growing Latino community fueled as of late by the migration of Puerto Ricans looking for their piece of the American Dream in Central Florida. Many escaping the worst financial crisis to befall the island of Puerto Rico in recent history looking for better opportunities were at Pulse Nightclub having fun, relaxing and for a few hours just forgetting how hard life was. Interviewed by Telemundo reporter Rogelio Mora, Mr. Carlos Batan choked up as he remembered his best friend, the very first person he met when he moved to Orlando four years ago. He recalled how his friend fell victim to the Orlando shooter after going to Pulse for a night of dancing. “I can’t believe the days in which we are living” he said.
This same story repeats itself, again and again at the crime scene leaving many wondering what can be done to curtail the gun violence sweeping the nation. But the bigger issue here is the threat of homegrown terrorism. The Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) has successfully infiltrated the minds of young American adults. The alleged perpetrator of this massacre Omar Saddiqui Mateen pledge allegiance to ISIS and the group issued a statement claiming that the massacre was an attacked sponsored by them. While the Latino community gathers the pieces and responds like any Latino family would, by uniting and aiding the victims of this tragedy, they also look towards their political leaders for answers. The FBI investigated Mateen twice for suspicious activity related to terrorism but the investigations were deemed inconclusive. Still when Mateen decided to purchase long guns, handguns and ammunition the sale was approved without issue. The question remains, was the FBI reckless for allowing the sale of this type of weapons to someone they investigated for possible terrorist ties?
At the moment answers are running short. Comprehensive gun control has been denied through the years and it seems like a distant dream. In the meantime everyone continues a heated debate about second amendment rights but, is anyone thinking about the victims when they have these conversations? Is anyone thinking about the dead? How many more have to die before we devise a system that respect the Second amendment while at the same time protecting our citizens? I refuse to believe it can’t be done, to me is all a matter of willpower. As a society, do we have the will to fix this issue?
As we in the Latino community are left grasping for answers all we can do is what we always do, unite as family and protect our own. Hotlines are open to offer help to victims and families. The GLBT Community Center of Central Florida has counselors available at its hotline. In a Facebook post they provide the following number 407-228-1446. The Center is located at 942 N Mills Avenue. In addition to help on the ground funds can be donated to a Go Fund Me page initiated by Equality Florida Action Inc., an advocacy group for LGBT rights. The page has raised more than $2,190,137 for the victims.
For full coverage of this story please go to NBC News