Bay Area stands in solidarity with Orlando, holds vigil

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Shock waves are being felt throughout the Bay Area in the wake of this past weekend's deadly-mass shooting in Orlando at an LGBTQ nightclub. From San Francisco to Walnut Creek, and down in the South Bay, the response has been swift and one of solidarity through vigils for the victims who were gunned down at Pulse, the venue where people celebrated their pride and the company of one another. 

Perhaps the most visible San Francisco connection to the sadness in Orlando is at 18th and Castro streets.

A sidewalk tribute here keeps growing as people continue to mourn. Some are dropping off flowers.

One 6-year-old posted a picture she drew of two people crying.

All day long, one-by-one, people, came here to be together to honor the lives of people they never knew.

"Just to honor the families in Orlando and as a gay son, and being a gay man myself, it is very hard for our community and all communities to pay respect. Some of these kids barely came out of the closet," said Larry Pascua of San Francisco.

Those here know what happened in Orlando could have happened anywhere and that they themselves could just as easily have been the ones being mourned.

"The loss is like a huge ripple that goes through families, obviously the young lives, their families, and their lovers. It's horrific," said Marty Jaye who lives in San Francisco.

The shootings happened during Pride Month. San Francisco's Pride parade and festivities are less than two weeks away.

The event attracts about a million people each year, but organizers tell us they are expecting even more this year because they want to take a stand against hatred and violence.

Organizers are also planning tributes to those killed in Orlando but are still working out the details.

"Right now we are looking at what options we have and what we would to do in memory of those who gave their lives for nothing more than being part of the LGBT community," said Pride spokesman Sam Singer.

Many people say the message from this year's pride should be a message of peace and hope.

"This will be a particularly meaningful pride, not just the parade but the whole weekend...remembering victims in Orlando and recommitting as a community to fight for our lives," said  San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener.

Wiener said he is in the early stages of working on a permanent memorial somewhere in San Francisco honor the victims.

Meanwhile, in the South Bay several hundred people attended vigils. 

The American flag, San Jose's flag and LGBTQ rainbow flags flew at half staff in front of San Jose City Hall.

Community leaders spoke about unity, compassion, and support for the victims and one another.

"We know that this could happen in any city in America and we need to come together at a time like this to express our pain to send our warm thoughts and prayers to the people and families in Orlando," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

"We decided to come to show our support and solidarity with the community and to stand united against in the face of hate," said Sarah Saber, a San Jose City College student who grew up in Tunisia, Egypt and Qatar.

"If we're divided, then our enemies are successful," said Saber's brother Ashraf Saber of Santa Clara who said he and other Muslim Americans are equally heartbroken by the tragedy.

"I know that there are a lot of people in the Muslim community that are appalled by the tragedy in Orlando," said Andrew Roling who came from Santa Clara with his husband carrying large rainbow flags.

Roling's message to Orlando: "To hold on to hope and to never let go of the ideal of love and acceptance for everyone," he said.

The vigil turned into a march through downtown San Jose past three gay bars, in support of the LGBTQ community. Marchers asked businesses to post rainbow signs as a show of support.

"It really warms my heart. It almost brings me to tears knowing how much we've grown as a community over the last few years, as an LGBT community," said Michael Herrick, of San Jose who had wrapped himself in a transgender flag.

At another vigil at Santa Clara University, people wore white ribbons over their hearts.

"The white's a silver that shimmers and captures all sort of colors and so again, a sense of solidarity with the LGBTQ community that is in mourning right now," said Lulu Santana, the Santa Clara University Director of Campus Ministry.

Members of the campus community read the names of the victims with a bell for each person lost.