Activists step in and sit down to convince Sen. Marco Rubio of the importance of gun control in Orlando

By : Billy Manes
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We were there, and we did cry. This morning around 10 a.m., numerous organizers from a coalition of organizations occupied 201 S. Orange Avenue for a classic sit-in against Sen. Marco Rubio (his office is there), gun violence and  hatred across the spectrum.

“This Little Light of Mine” was altered to include “the 49,” referencing those who were shot down at Pulse in Orlando on June 12. Rubio’s office took notice, sending a chief staffer to try to mitigate the mud on his face, but so far as we could tell, nobody was about to move. We’ll certainly be covering this at more length in the future, but today was a cathartic display of peace with pizza delivery. Here’s the press release. Beneath are the pictures we were able to capture.

As we approach one-month since the massacre at Pulse Nightclub and continue to be plagued with violence, it is clear that our elected leaders have failed us. Today, residents of Orlando begin a #SitInForThe49 to demand action of Sen. Marco Rubio and all elected officials who have contributed to the discrimination and violence that plagues our communities and nation.

Sen. Rubio claims he is “deeply impacted” by last month’s Pulse Nightclub Shooting, yet he continues to terrorize Orlando’s LGBTQ+ communities of color by adhering to a platform of so-called “conservative values” which discriminates, dehumanizes, and denies access to the American dream.

Opportunist political leaders have offered meaningless platitudes and political pandering in response to unspeakable violence. At best, politicians propose “No Fly No Buy” legislation that employs racial profiling and fails to address the most urgent needs of marginalized communities. We demand a comprehensive platform to address gun safety, equality, and community violence:

Gun Safety: Gun manufacturers and the gun lobby generate profits from tragedies. Lawmakers must reject financial contributions from the NRA, implement universal background checks to close jarring loopholes, enact legislation making it a crime to knowingly import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon or large capacity ammunition-feeding device, and allow federal research on gun violence.

Equality: LGBTQ+ people of color are more likely to be the victims of hate crimes than any other minority group. The Pulse Nightclub massacre impacted those who suffer from discrimination, poverty wages, and an unjust immigration system. We demand not only an end to hateful rhetoric and policies that perpetuate racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, and xenophobia; but the passage of a fully-inclusive national LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination law and comprehensive immigration reform.

Community Violence: It is time to end the senseless and systematic murder of unarmed black and brown people at the hands of law enforcement. Lawmakers must end police brutality, develop a transparent database of law enforcement activity, repeal mandatory-minimums for nonviolent drug offenses, and institute after-school programs, living-wage jobs, and accessible higher education to cultivate brighter futures in our communities.

In honor of the lives lost here in Orlando, and all victims of institutional discrimination and rampant gun violence, we are staging a 49-hour sit-in to demand action from Sen. Marco Rubio and all local, state, and federal officials. We urge you to join us here in Orlando or stage your own sit in.

Photos by Deanndra Meno. Video by Billy Manes.

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