Christine Leinonen, mother of Christopher “Drew” Leinonen, who was among the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Fla., spoke at a rally that took place on Sunday.
Christine Leinonen said at a candlelight vigil the night before that her son and his boyfriend, Juan Guerrero, were planning to get married.
Christopher Leinonen was shot at least nine times and died before the police were able to enter the nightclub. Guerrero, who was with him, passed away at a nearby hospital.
“His family and my family get to mourn together,” said Christine Leinonen, speaking through tears. “Instead of celebrating at a wedding, we get to mourn together.”
Mike Zuhl, executive director of LGBTQ United, the group that organized the rally and vigil, said on Sunday that he was on vacation in Spain when news of the Pulse nightclub massacre broke. He told those who were in attendance that he heard gunshots and screams while a BBC reporter was reporting from outside the building.
“Gun violence is something that affects all of us in the U.S., all over the world,” said Zuhl.
Donald Trump criticized at rally
The rally and vigil took place less than two weeks after a police officer in Charlotte, N.C., fatally shot Keith Scott.
The black man’s death sparked days of protests throughout the city.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has released videos of the shooting. It plans to release the remaining footage after Scott’s family has a chance to watch it.
Linda Dominguez, an immigration lawyer who describes herself as “a gender-fluid queer individual,” said on Sunday that a Baltimore police officer asked her biracial son if he belonged to a gang after a group of gang members assaulted him. Dominguez added that her clients — many of whom are from Latin America or Africa — are afraid of both law enforcement and criminals with guns.
“They don’t know whether they will survive an encounter in either situation,” said Dominguez.Many of those who gathered at Lafayette Square openly supported Hillary Clinton.
Zuhl wore a Clinton hat during both events. José Gutíerrez, founder of the Latino GLBT History Project, sharply criticized Donald Trump when he spoke at Sunday’s rally.
“Mr. Donald Trump, I’m a Mexican American,” said Gutiérrez. “I’m not a criminal and I’m not a drug dealer.”
“We don’t need a president who has been disrespectful of Latinos, of women and of other minorities,” he added. “We’re done.”