ORLANDO, Fla. – Survivors and victims’ relatives are marking the second anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting with a remembrance ceremony, a run, art exhibits and litigation.
Ahead of Tuesday’s commemoration of the massacre of 49 people at the gay nightclub, some survivors and victims’ relatives have sued the Orlando Police Department and the owners of the nightclub.
The federal lawsuit against the police and city of Orlando was filed last Thursday and it claims police officers should have acted more aggressively to stop the shooter. The state lawsuit against Pulse owners Barbara and Rosario Poma was filed Friday and it says the nightclub had inadequate security.
Both lawsuits were filed by plaintiff attorneys based in Philadelphia and Michigan.
The Pomas said in a statement that they hadn’t seen the lawsuit and that the focus this week should be on healing.
“We ask that everyone keep the focus where it belongs as we prepare for this Remembrance Week,” the Pomas said.
In a statement, the Orlando Police Department said their officers and other law enforcement officers did everything they could to save as many lives as possible.
In the run-up to the anniversary, the parents of murdered gay college student Matthew Shepard spoke in Orlando, a “rainbow run” was held in a park near the nightclub, and a play was produced based on the interviews of Pulse survivors and those around the world who responded to the tragedy.
On Tuesday, bells will be rung 49 times at a church in downtown Orlando and a remembrance service will be held at the nightclub, where a planned memorial is in development. Forty-nine ribbons will be hung outside City Hall, an exhibit on the tragedy is being held at the Orange County History Center and a rainbow flag will be hung from the Orange County Administration building.
The recent lawsuits mark a departure for some of the survivors and victims’ relatives since they are directed at the law enforcement response and the facility where the massacre took place.
Previous lawsuits by Pulse survivors and victims’ families were aimed at social media companies and the security company where gunman Omar Mateen was employed. The social media lawsuit claimed Mateen was radicalized by through propaganda found on social media and the employer lawsuit claimed the security firm knew Mateen was mentally unstable but allowed him to carry a gun on the job as a security guard.
Mateen was killed at the nightclub in a shootout with police officers. Earlier this year, his wife was acquitted of helping to plot the attack and lying to the FBI afterward.