Friday was the two-month anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting on June 12. At a Tiger Bay luncheon and panel, community leaders Buddy Dyer, Teresa Jacobs, Orlando Police Chief John Mina, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, and Carlos Carbonell spoke about the tumultuous path of the summer so far and what the plans are going forward in how to navigate the aftermath of a tragedy.
The first half of the panel consisted of a recap of the immediate aftermath of the attack, with mayors Dyer and Jacobs praising the swift and tremendous reaction of the community, and Mina and Demings speaking of the way law enforcement had reacted.
Conversation moved toward the preservation efforts next, and what the city and county would do to move beyond the tragedy and into the future with memorial efforts. Dyer said the best path in terms of dealing with the Pulse nightclub itself was to tread carefully and not move too quickly on taking down the memorial that has grown around it, as people may want to travel, look at it, and pay their respects.
“We want to keep the club exactly as it is for some time,” he said. “So people who want to come see it as it is can do so. We want to be thoughtful and get input. We have time to think about how to use the Pulse site. We need to think about it.”
He said while the OneOrlando fund will overwhelmingly provide for those affected directly by the attack — victims, deceased loved ones’ families, those who had been trapped inside, and those who suffered mental agony — there needed to be some form of compensation for hospitals who lost money helping victims without Medicaid or health care, and for businesses who haven’t been reimbursed for lost services after the attack.
One mentioned was an auto detail shop right next door to Pulse, where people have been parking to visit the Pulse memorial. Dyer said that had taken up parking spots in the shop’s lot that could’ve been used for customers.
Dyer said he had spoken to U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Bill Nelson about some kind of solution for both problems.
In response to a question from the audience regarding what can be done about mental health in the wake of any mass shooting, Jacobs said mental health should certainly be at the forefront when looking for solutions. But also, she said, it’s a matter of making sure LGBT youth get the help they need as well.
“So many youths don’t know where to turn in the LGBT community,” she said. “They’re afraid to have that talk with their parents, and that’s why homelessness and suicide rates are high. We have to do better.”
Carbonell, a Hispanic LGBT resident of Orlando and a member of the OneOrlando Board, shared something survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing had told him — to not let the community affected be forgotten.
“Don’t forget the survivors,” he said. “I am a gay Latino. Make sure you don’t forget that community. The LGBT community was the one most affected by this.”