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Buffalo remembers 49 gunned down at Pulse Nightclub

WBFO's Mike Desmond

A year to the day after 49 lives were lost in an act of terrorism in Orlando's Pulse nightclub, their lives were recognized in a church memorial service Monday night.

Clergy from across the area's faiths and an array of people attended the Embrace Orlando service in Pilgrim-Saint Luke's and El Nuevo Camino Church. It was a mix of prayer, preaching and music, with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown proclaiming the city's support for those who fight hate and discrimination.

"As mayor of the City of Buffalo, I am proud to be here with all of you to remember those lives that were lost in Orlando, FL to senseless violence and other lives that were lost due to senseless violence, hate and discrimination." said Brown.

The service was led by church pastor Rev. Justo Gonzalez, who said it is important for the varying communities to stand firm in who they are and the issues they support.

"As a Latino, I say, 'Enough is enough.' As a man of faith, I say, 'How dare you violate the human dignity of others?' As a gay man, I say, 'You know what? This is who I am. Get over it. If you have an issue with it, then that's your issue.' Our community knows who we are called to be, who we we've been created to be and we're, quite frankly, tired," said Gonzalez.

Credit WBFO's Mike Desmond

Speakers made it clear the issues of violence against the LGBTQ community continue and have to be fought. The dead were remembered by name in this service, but the hate behind their murders must be resisted.

Pride Center Director Damian Mordecai said the community is tough, despite the Pulse murders.

"But they didn't kill our spirit. We have survived a plague. We have re-defined marriage. We are resilient and right here in Buffalo, I have seen amazing things that we are able to accomplish when we come together and we support one another," said Mordecai. "That's why I'm here."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.