Southold Town gathers to remember Orlando shooting victims


A scroll with 49 names fell from the music stand, down the gazebo steps and onto the ground as Sonia Spar, co-chair of the Southold Anti-Bias Task Force, became emotional while she read the names of the lives lost on June 12 in Orlando.

As the names were read, a candle was lit for each person killed during the mass shooting at Pulse, a Florida night club.

On Monday, local residents gathered for a vigil at Silversmith’s Corner in Southold.

Elizabeth Bannon sang John Lennon’s “Imagine,” accompanied by Rob Europe on the guitar and joined by the dozens of community members in attendance. As Ms. Bannon sang, attendees lit candles.

Over a dozen community representatives spoke at the vigil, sending their love to the victims’ families and urging the community to come together in love to prevent more of these types of attacks from happening.

“We’re here because of a terrible event and a terrible loss that has deeply shaken many, many people across the nation, across the world and across our town,” Carolyn Peabody, a member of the Anti-Bias Task Force and LGBT community, said.

Maggie Bloomfield, a Westhampton Beach resident, said she attended the vigil because her “heart is broken by what happened in Orlando.”

“I want — with all my heart and soul — to honor diversity and to protest, in anyway I can, as far as guns, hatred and violence are concerned,” she added.

Students from MainStage Dance Academy Lyrical Company later performed a dance to the Civil Twilight song “Letters From the Sky.”

Leaders from local religious organizations also spoke to the importance of love and acceptance.

In addition, Susan Grathwohl Dingle and Robert “Bubbie” Brown from Poetry Street read poems.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell urged the community to reflect on themselves and think about what they’ve done to stop spreading such hatred throughout their communities, saying that ambivalence has created a culture full of hate.

“To each of you, to those who sit on the sidelines, 49 innocent people died,” he said. “What will it take for you to get involved and join us in this cause? We all have the right to live in dignity, and we must never let this happen again.”

As the vigil ended, attendees brought their candles up to the scroll and places them at the bottom, next to the words: “We remember you with love today and always.”

Top photo: Sonia Spar reads the names of the Orlando shooting victims as candles are lit during a vigil Monday. (Photos: Nicole Smith)

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