Latino LGBTQ advocates have criticized presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s response to the deadly mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. Early Sunday, a gunman opened fire at an LGBTQ nightclub, killing at least 49 people and wounding more than 50 others in what is now being described as “the worst mass shooting” in U.S. history. Details about the attack, which disproportionately affected the Latino community, are still emerging.
In the wake of the shooting, Trump pointed on Sunday to his previous calls for a ban on Muslims from entering the country, tweeting: “What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning. Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban. Must be tough.” The next day, Trump reiterated his suggestion during a national security speech, in which he said the country “stands in solidarity with Orlando’s LGBT community,” going on to tell the crowd that he would implement a temporary ban on immigrants from places with “a proven history of terrorism.”
Earlier Monday, the Republican had told Fox News’ Fox & Friends that mosques should be the subject of surveillance.
“I think it’s shameful. I think it’s completely missing the point,” Jose Plaza, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Latino GLBT History Project (LHP), told Rewire by phone. “This isn’t about being divisive … I think the leaders in our community need to come together and support one another and not scapegoat folks.”
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“You know, 50 families lost loved ones, and it shouldn’t be about having the most impactful tweet, or having the most followers, or getting congratulations,” continued Plaza. “It should be about focusing on the victims of their families and the countless others that are still in the hospital, and figuring out ways to bring ourselves together.”
The LHP plans to hold both vigils and fundraisers in support of those affected by the violence in Orlando, and Plaza discussed his hope that the massacre would be “another rallying cry [for Latinos] to come out in the election cycle and make a better choice.”
The Gran Varones Project, which uses video and photography to tell the stories of Latino and Afro-Latino gay, queer and trans men, also expressed outrage at Trump’s comments in a statement to Rewire.
“The Gran Varones Project was created to build and solidify community among Queer Latino Men. Sadly, during the early hours of June 12th, evil tried to break that community,” said the organization in an email. “Just as disappointing is how the Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump uses this tragic event for his political gain and to further divide marginalized communities. Something evil was waiting at Pulse to kill us NOT Islam. We will not stand by and allow anyone running for President to use the killing of black and brown family members as a reason to kill other brown folks.”
Though not speaking specifically about Trump’s response, the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity made an appeal “to ask that we resist assigning blame to any individual or group beyond the shooter” in a Sunday statement after the attack.
“We reject attempts to perpetuate hatred against our LGBTQ communities as well as our Muslim communities,” wrote the group. “We ask all people to resist forces of division and hatred, and to stand against homophobia and transphobia, as well as against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry. Tragedies often lead people to seek someone or something to blame, but we ask our friends to resist this temptation. Let us instead recommit ourselves to working toward a world without hatred and prejudice.”
In a written statement posted to her Facebook page, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called the violence both “an act of terror” as well as an “act of hate.” Clinton noted that the gunman’s attack took place in the midst of Pride Month.
“To the LGBT community: please know that you have millions of allies across our country,” wrote the former secretary of state. “I am one of them. We will keep fighting for your right to live freely, openly and without fear. Hate has absolutely no place in America.”
Clinton offered a more robust outline of how her administration would work to prevent such attacks if she were to be elected during a speech Monday in Cleveland, Ohio, promising to make “stopping lone wolves a top priority” of her presidency. The speech went on to call for gun-safety regulations, noting that those being watched by the FBI “for suspected terrorist links … shouldn’t be able to go buy a gun with no questions asked, and you shouldn’t be able to exploit loopholes and evade criminal background checks by buying online or at a gun show.” Clinton went on to say that these sorts of regulations “may not stop every shooting, or every terrorist attack. But it will stop some, and it will save lives, and it will protect our first responders.”
“Inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric and threatening to ban the families and friends of Muslim Americans, as well as millions of Muslim businesspeople and tourists from entering our country, hurts the vast majority of Muslims who love freedom and hate terror,” continued Clinton, seemingly referencing Trump’s points. “So does saying we have to start special surveillance on our fellow Americans because of their religion. It’s no coincidence that hate crimes against American Muslims and mosques have tripled after Paris and San Bernardino. That’s wrong, and it’s also dangerous. It plays right into the terrorists’ hands.”