STAMFORD, Conn. — In response to a deadly attack on a popular gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday, Stamford officials, clergy and LGBT community members gathered to raise the pride flag at the Stamford Government Center on Wednesday morning.
The Rev. Kate Heichler, executive director of the Interfaith Council of Southwestern Connecticut, told the crowd gathered in the government center lobby that the pride flag is an important symbol.
“Flags do matter because they are symbols,” Heichler said. “And when a community is under attack, oppressed, discriminated against, marginalized, those symbols matter tremendously.”
Stamford Mayor David Martin, who later invited those gathered in the lobby to watch the flag raising outside, said the ceremony is a symbol of solidarity.
“This is a community that recognizes the importance of diversity, that is accepting of diversity ... so today we raise the LGBT flag,” Martin said.
The flag raising came just days after a mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando left 49 people dead and 53 injured Sunday morning. The death toll makes it the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Anthony Crisci, director of The Triangle Community Center in Norwalk, previously called the shooting “an attack on the LGBTQ community.”
Martin said he hopes people can put an "end to a world where hatred as a norm." And he said that the country has made strides toward fighting oppression but that more work needs to be done.
“This country, I believe, has been fighting oppression since its founding,” Martin said. “We’ve come a long way, and we still have a long way to go.”
After Martin's remarks, Stamford’s Director of Public Safety, Health and Welfare Ted Jankowski said the city was in touch with national authorities and is increasing its awareness to ensure safety of all citizens regardless of race, religion or sexuality.