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Greater Lafayette Mourns Victims of Orlando Shooting At Candlelight Vigil


Hundreds of people descended on Lafayette's courthouse square Monday night to remember the 49 victims killed in the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub last weekend. 

By dusk, Monday's sweltering heat had largely subsided, and as hundreds of people gathered behind Congress Street United Methodist Church, the mood was relaxed, even jovial--but that changed when pastor Clarinda Crawford took the microphone and read the names of the Orlando shooting victims aloud. 

"Leroy Valentin Fernandez Peter Gonzalez-Cruz, Juan Ramon Guerrero, Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon..."

As she read, two people released colorful paper lanterns the size of beach balls into the darkening sky.

"We lament the tragic loss of 49 lives that dared to display joy in what they deemed to be a safe place," Crawford told the crowd, adding "pride may very well be the most powerful act of resistance for those whose lives are constantly assaulted by bigotry and oppression and hatred."

After lighting each others' candles, attendees began the 20-block trek down Main Street to the courthouse square --to protest gun violence and show religious tolerance and solidarity with the gay community. 

Cindy Haley works with children at Lafayette Urban Ministry and says after the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, she decided to everything she could to fight gun violence

"There's been so much going since then, and it's just ridiculous," she says. "I've had enough, and I thought i'd come tonight….i've had enough."

Along the route, well-wishers offered bottles of water and replacements for those who'd candles had burned to waxy stumps around their fingers. 

There wasn't a speech or a rally planned downtown. Most people just took the time to think. Remy Thomas says after the attack, terrorism seems a lot closer than it did a week ago.

"Having such a direct attack happen to a specific group of people you actually belong to…it really kind of makes it real," she says, adding "an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us."

The 350 people completely circled the block around the county courthouse. After an hour or so, they blew out their candles and left.   

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