Congress Backs National Memorial Designation for Former Pulse Nightclub Site

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U.S.|Congress Backs National Memorial Designation for Former Pulse Nightclub Site

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/16/us/pulse-nightclub-shooting-memorial.html

Congress has adopted legislation to formally designate the site of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., as a memorial to the 49 people who were killed there on June 12, 2016.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a ceremony on Wednesday to recognize the passage of legislation creating the National Pulse Memorial in Orlando, Fla.
Credit...Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

June 16, 2021

Five years after a gunman attacked a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., killing 49 people and wounding dozens more, Congress has adopted legislation to formally designate the site as the National Pulse Memorial.

President Biden has said he plans to sign the legislation, “enshrining in law what has been true since that terrible day five years ago: Pulse nightclub is hallowed ground.”

The legislation, H.R. 49, named for the number of people killed in the rampage on June 12, 2016, is largely ceremonial and is part of an effort to transform the former site of the Pulse nightclub at 1912 South Orange Avenue into a permanent memorial that will feature a reflecting pool encircling the Pulse building and a nearby museum with vertical gardens, public plazas and a rooftop promenade.

The county, the state and multiple corporations have agreed to give millions toward the $45 million project. The federal legislation specifies that the national memorial will not accept federal funds and will not be part of the National Park system.

The site is currently home to an interim memorial that invites visitors to leave flowers and mementos at an “offering wall,” and to view the former nightclub building, according to the onePULSE Foundation, a nonprofit that was started by Barbara Poma, the former owner of the Pulse nightclub, to commemorate the lives lost in the attack.

“It is so meaningful to everyone here,” Ms. Poma said of the memorial designation by Congress. “This is such a huge, I believe, sign to the community, the L.G.B.T.Q.+ community, that what happened at Pulse matters and it will never be forgotten.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, wearing a rainbow-colored ribbon, held a ceremony on Wednesday to recognize the passage of the legislation.

“Pulse was a peaceful haven where mostly young, mostly L.G.B.T.Q. Americans could enjoy music, dancing and celebration — a sense of community,” Ms. Pelosi said. “Our hearts break again, thinking of how this sanctuary of safety and solidarity was violated by this horrific act of hatred, leaving behind unimaginable pain in the Orlando community.”

Ms. Pelosi reiterated her support for tougher gun laws, including enhanced background checks. She recalled meeting with survivors of the Pulse shooting after the attack, and said their message was clear: “Stop this violence. Don’t let this happen to other people.”

“It’s really important for the survivors to know we are not going away until the job is done,” she said.

Omar Mateen, who had used Facebook to pledge his allegiance to the Islamic State, carried out the rampage at Pulse, which Mr. Biden pointed out was the deadliest attack on L.G.B.T.Q. Americans and, at the time, the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman.

Federal investigators have said they do not believe that Mr. Mateen, who was 29 and who was killed by the police, received any specific training or support from the Islamic State.

On Saturday, the fifth anniversary of the attack, Mr. Biden urged Congress to adopt stricter gun laws, including measures that would prevent gun buyers from bypassing background checks and that would ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

“In the memory of all of those lost at the Pulse nightclub five years ago,’’ he said, “let us continue the work to be a nation at our best — one that recognizes and protects the dignity and safety of every American.”

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