SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The South Orange-Maplewood community gathered to Stand with Orlando at a vigil on Tuesday night at the Sloan Street Gazebo in South Orange in solemn remembrance of the 49 victims shot to death inside an Orlando nightclub on Sunday morning in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Reverend Sandye Wilson of The Episcopal Church of Saint Andrew and Holy Communion provided opening remarks, followed by the crowd singing "Let There Be Peace on Earth," led by Cantor Riki Lippitz of Oheb Shalom Congregation.
Seton Hall Student Government Association members Teagan Sebba, Chelsea Wilson, Amanda Moreria, Christina Simon and Michelle Pan read the names of the deceased.
Maplewood Mayor Vic De Luca addressed the crowd, as well as Rev. Brad Motta of the Morrow Church, Rabbi Dan Cohen of Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, and Ashraf Latif, chairman and president of the National Islamic Association and Community Center in Newark.
North Jersey Pride members C.J. Prince and Jan Kaminsky spoke. "We will not allow the very fabric of our nation to be torn apart by hate," Kaminsky said. "We in the queer community, and those who love us, are here not just for a minute, not just for an hour, not just for this vigil. We are in this for the long game. These are our lives."
Kamisky spoke about the need to enact gun reform, saying, "Ban assault weapons now. Mandatory background checks now. Call your representatives and insist on change -- now."
Resha Ketkar from Moms Demand Action, addressed the crowd, also stressing the importance of common sense gun reform.
South Orange Village President Sheena Collum delivered the closing remarks, thanking everyone for putting together the vigil in a short period of time, and recognizing Bob Zuckerman, Executive Director of the South Orange Village Center Alliance, for initially suggesting that a vigil be held in the SOMA community.
The vigil ended with a final song, "We Shall Overcome," led by Cantor Riki Lippitz and Gary Wright, Executive Director of the African American Office of Gay Concerns.