SACRAMENTO -- Sacramento's LGBTQ+ community hosted a candlelight vigil Wednesday night in midtown to stop and remember the five lives lost when, police say, a gunman opened fire on a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs on Nov. 19.
The alleged shooter, 22-year-old Anderson Alrich, is facing five counts of first-degree murder and possible hate crime charges. In a court appearance Wednesday, he was ordered to be held in jail without bail.
Wednesday also marked a show of support in Lavender Heights, the heart of Sacramento's LGBTQ+ community, which is home to bars, clubs and places where the queer community says they can truly be themselves. It was there a group of dozens gathered to mourn the lives lost in Colorado and fight for change.
"This has to stop happening," said Beverly Kearney, founder of the Love is Love Movement, to the crowd which gathered first outside the Kennedy Gallery.
It is a message that resonates with a community that's hurting. As dozens lit their candles Wednesday night, each one represented solidarity.
"To see this happen over and over is reinstalling that people really don't like us," said attendee Rachel Powell through tears.
What started as a candlelight vigil to remember the five lives lost at Club Q in Colorado Springs ended in action, with a march down midtown streets with a message to stop the hate.
"For me, it's painful to live through these and understand that we can do more," said Matthew St. Amant, Pride employee resource group chair for UC Davis Health.
LGBTQ+ community members and allies lined the streets in support outside Lavender Heights gay bars, which are meant to be a safe space for all. In Colorado Springs, they became the opposite.
"We live in the United States. You don't think you'd have to be in survival mode to go to work, to say hello to a friend," said Johnathan Cameron, the general manager of both The Depot bar and Badlands nightclub in midtown Sacramento.
The group is advocating for action and saying hatred will not win.
"People are coming at us and there is no reason for it. It doesn't make sense to me," said Powell.
"We are a community. We are here. We are one of you. We are the same," said St. Amant.
As the names of the five Club Q victims were written on candles, shining brightly, it came as a reminder to hug loved ones and be thankful for a community that leans on one another.
"As we are getting ready to go into Thanksgiving, it's a moment for us to appreciate those around us — unfortunately, those who have lost their lives," said Cameron.
Wednesday night was about unity. Advocates are asking politicians to step up, to fight to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ community members. They also challenged every person in attendance to do five random acts of kindness this week in honor of each of the five Colorado victims.
The victims were both employees and patrons of the club. Colorado Springs police identified them as:
- Raymond Green Vance (he/him)
- Kelly Loving (she/her)
- Daniel Aston (he/him)
- Derrick Rump (he/him)
- Ashley Paugh (she/ her)
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