A coalition of Hispanic, immigrant, and faith groups is holding a “Night of Prayer for Peace” forum in Orlando next week as a response to rising hate-filled rhetoric nationally and the Aug. 3 mass murder of Hispanics in El Paso.
Organizer Anthony Suarez, a lawyer, Hispanic leader, and former Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives, is pulling together groups representing a variety of Latin American cultures in Central Florida for an evening of discussions, speeches, songs, prayers and a candlelight vigil.
The event is to run from 5:30 to 8 p.m. next Wednesday at the Center for Spiritual Living for Orlando.
“Our nation is experiencing a period of mourning as a result of actions of individuals who have hate in their hearts,” Suarez stated in a release announcing the event. “The Hispanic community, which includes millions of Americans, is feeling under siege and in fear that they have targets on their backs. Whether we have been here for 10 generations or are newly arrived, every Hispanic person loves this nation and all that it represents.”
Among the initial participating organizations are the Hispanic Federation of Florida, the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida, the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida, Casa de Venezuela, Casa de Puerto Rico, and Alianza for Progress.
Suarez, who has changed his voter registration to nonpartisan, said he is pushing hard to make the event nonpartisan.
“We’re making sure people don’t pull the ‘You’re a Republican’ or ‘You’re a Democrat’ and all that crap,” Suarez said.
“The target audience is not Hispanics. Hispanics uniformly know what’s going on. Uniformly,” Suarez said. “It’s the hate rhetoric. It’s the people that still think the current mode of talk is acceptable…. We want to remind them we’re their neighbors. We’re their friends. We’re people who fought for our country. And it’s uncomfortable for your friends under the environment we are in today.”