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Salt Lake City Honors Orlando Shooting Victims With Downtown Vigil

Hundreds of people stood in the rain outside the Salt Lake City and County building Monday night to hold a candlelight vigil for the victims of the Orlando, Florida night club shooting.

It was like an extension of last week’s Pride festival, but the rainbow flags that peppered the lawns outside city hall Monday represented solidarity in the face of tragedy, not celebration.

“I came out because I was sad and scared and I wanted to be a part of my community,” said Trevor Smith. He is a Salt Lake City resident and Florida native. Smith says he doesn’t know anyone personally who was killed early Sunday inside the Orlando gay club, Pulse. But his friends back home do.

“So that’s been the most tragic for me is to see myself in my friends and for them to see themselves in the victims,” Smith said.

Community activist Lesley Ann Shaw referred to gay nightclubs like Pulse, as places where LGBT people find solace.

“If you can’t wrap your head around a bar or a club being a sanctuary, you’ve probably never been afraid to hold someone’s hand in public,” Shaw said.

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski spoke at the vigil. She called for a conversation about gun laws and mental healthcare.

“It’s past time for sensible gun safety laws in this state and in this country,” Biskupski said. “And it is sensible to keep military-style weapons off our streets.”

Utah Republican Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox spoke as well, saying he didn’t want to make the vigil a partisan event. He says Orlando isn’t dealing with this weekend’s events alone.

“Our law enforcement has been in touch with their law enforcement. We share information,” Cox said. “We want to make sure that this doesn’t happen here or anywhere else.”

Salt Lake City joined dozens of other cities around the country that held vigils to honor the wounded and killed in the largest mass shooting in U.S. History. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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