RAINBOW FLAGS RAISED IN THREE BOROUGHS FOLLOWING ORLANDO MASSACRE
Rainbow flags have been raised in three of the boroughs which are in, or border on, the Crystal Palace area following the Orlando massacre which left 49 people dead and more than 50 injured.
A rainbow flag was hoisted outside Croydon town hall in honour of the victims of the deadly shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
IN CROYDON The mayor Wayne Trakas-Lawlor, who raised the flag at 9.30am, said the council wanted to “send a clear message” that the borough “stands shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters” who lost their lives in the massacre.
At least 50 people were killed after Omar Mateen, 29, opened fire on crowds at Pulse nightclub with an assault rifle and handgun in the early hours of Sunday morning in the deadliest shooting in US history.
Fifty-three people were also injured, many critically, and authorities said they expected the death toll to rise.
Cllr Trakas-Lawlor, the borough’s first openly gay mayor, said: “The attack has been described as a deliberate act of terror and hate.
“I know that we will all want to send a clear message that Croydon stands shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in Orlando who lost their lives in this sickening attack.”
A book of condolence has been opened at Croydon town hall.
Mateen, who was killed in the siege, phoned police and pledged allegiance to Islamic State before he opened fire in the busy nightclub, according to reports.
The terror group has since claimed responsibility for the attack, which was described by President Barack Obama as an “act of hate”.
Mateen’s father, Seddique Mir Mateen, told NBC news that his son had recently been angered after seeing two men kissing while out with his young son and denied the killings had a religious motive.
It has emerged that the New York-born killer, who worked for security giant G4S, had come under the gaze of US counter-terror investigators several times in recent years
IN LAMBETH the council has expressed its condolences to the victims and their families.
Cllr Lib Peck, Lambeth council leader, said: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this senseless violence. “We stand united with our LGBT communities in the face of this appalling homophobic attack – and loudly reject those who wish to sow hatred and division.
Cllr Peck joined council cabinet members at Olive Morris House in Brixton at 1pm to fly the LGBT rainbow flag at half-mast in tribute to those who lost their lives in the attack.
In 1999, Lambeth itself was targeted by a violent, homophobic racist who set off a nail bomb in Brixton, as well as two other locations in London. The perpetrator hoped to stir up hatred between the Black, Asian and gay communities.
“His plan failed and in the wake of this latest appalling attack the importance of working hard to build understand and unity between communities is again at the forefront of our minds” said a Lambeth council statement.
IN SOUTHWARK the council flew the LGBT flag at half mast to remember those who lost their lives in Orlando this weekend.
The council were also opening books of condolence in the reception of its Tooley Street office, in Canada Water library and in Peckham library for anyone who wants to leave a message.
Southwark council leader Cllr Peter John said: “The horrific attack in Orlando at the weekend has shocked the world, and Southwark sends its deepest sympathies to the victims and their families.
“This attack on a group of young people enjoying a night out, as with the Paris attacks, aims to drive fear into the hearts of people going about their everyday lives.
“It is also a despicable hate crime against the LGBT community. “We must stand firm, celebrating our diverse community and uniting to condemn this awful act.” (Sources: Croydon council press release; Lambeth council press release; Southwark council press release)