Tens of thousands remember Orlando nightclub shooting victims at vigil
Westboro protesters trying to disrupt funeral earlier were shielded by counter-protesters dressed as angels
Orlando, a week after mass shooting
Tens of thousands of people turned out Sunday evening for a vigil in Orlando, Fla., to honour the victims of a mass shooting at the city's Pulse gay nightclub one week ago.
A rainbow appeared over Lake Eola Park as crowds of people held white flowers, American flags and candles to pay tribute to the 49 people who were killed in the shooting.
One of the people attending the vigil, Traci Hines-McKenzie, said the timing of the rainbow was perfect.
"You know that's a sign," she said.
At the end of the vigil, people held up their candles as the names of each victim were read, creating a ring of fire around Lake Eola. They chanted "One Orlando," "Orlando United" and "Somos Orlando," Spanish for "We are Orlando."
Earlier in the day, church bells rang in downtown Orlando and patrons at nightclubs paused for a moment at 2 a.m. to remember the victims.
One of those memorials was at the Parliament House, another LGBT nightclub in Orlando.
Protests by Westboro Baptists
There was a brief disruption Saturday at the funeral for Christopher Leinonen, one of the victims of last week's shooting.
A few members from the Westboro Baptist Church — a Kansas-based religious group known for its anti-gay sentiment and for its protests at military funerals — were picketing at the funeral.
But the protesters were soon surrounded by counter-protesters dressed as angels, shielding Leinonen's family from the Westboro Baptist Church members. The angel wings were created by members of the Orlando Shakespeare Theater.
The supporters in attendance sang the tune Amazing Grace to muffle out shouts by the protesters. Orlando Police said they helped remove the Westboro protesters from the funeral and that they have since left the state. Soon after, the crowd started chanting "O-P-D" as a way of thanking the police department.
After OPD Officers escorted Westboro protesters off the funeral scene, here's what the crowd did: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/OrlandoUnited?src=hash">#OrlandoUnited</a> <a href="https://t.co/eQdKjDqrGT">pic.twitter.com/eQdKjDqrGT</a>—@OrlandoPolice
Around Orlando, people have been praying on the street and leaving balloons, flowers, pictures and posters to honour the victims.
Dozens of people waited several hours at Realm Tattoos to get one of the recently drawn "One Pulse" tattoos etched into their skin. The tattoos are free, but people are encouraged to leave a donation for the victims, which will be distributed by Southern Nights, another Orlando nightclub.
Jonathan Betancourt, the shop's owner, said he was surprised at how fast the community came together in such a short time. "We love to tattoo. This is what we live for. Come in, show your love," Betancourt said. "You always got to pay it forward. This is my way to pay it forward."
A tattoo bar called Stigma was also raising funds for the families of the victims via body art, with their own Orlando and Pulse-themed tattoos.
At the Joy Metropolitan Community Church, the Rev. Terry Steed Pierce told her largely gay congregation that survivor guilt was haunting some Pulse patrons who had made it out alive but had lost friends.
Pierce says she has heard of one man who died by suicide this week. He lost two of his friends to the massacre and he survived. She says people need to rally around those who survived the massacre.
With files from Reuters