Hundreds attend vigil as councillor warns ‘it could have happened here’

Members of Blackpool's LGBT community held a vigil outside the Flying Handbag pub to mourn the victims of Orlando's mass shooting. A packed Queen Street.
Members of Blackpool's LGBT community held a vigil outside the Flying Handbag pub to mourn the victims of Orlando's mass shooting. A packed Queen Street.

Hundreds of people have gathered in Blackpool to remember the victims of the Orlando massacre.

Stood outside the Flying Handbang in Queen Street, they paused for a minute’s silence during a vigil at 7pm yesterday.

Members of Blackpool's LGBT community held a vigil outside the Flying Handbag pub to mourn the victims of Orlando's mass shooting. Lighting one of the fifty candles while the flag flies at half-mast

Members of Blackpool's LGBT community held a vigil outside the Flying Handbag pub to mourn the victims of Orlando's mass shooting. Lighting one of the fifty candles while the flag flies at half-mast

It was held for the 49 people gunned down at gay nightclub Pulse in the early hours of Sunday – and just a day after Blackpool’s Pride event ended following two days of celebration.

It was led by Father Martin Murray, and saw people break down into tears as the victims’ names were read out. Some of those gathered said they had met some of the victims at previous events.

Addressing the emotional crowd, Coun Graham Cain, said: “It could have happened here. We’ve just celebrated a fantastic weekend.

“We will not give in to these people. We will stand strong and we will stand together.”

Members of Blackpool's LGBT community held a vigil outside the Flying Handbag pub to mourn the victims of Orlando's mass shooting. Councillor Graham Cain representing the council makes a speech

Members of Blackpool's LGBT community held a vigil outside the Flying Handbag pub to mourn the victims of Orlando's mass shooting. Councillor Graham Cain representing the council makes a speech

Blackpool Police’s equality and diversity officer, PC Ian Ashton, added: “Please do not be worried about what has taken place. It’s a long, long way away and I know things happen, but it does bring back and bring home to people that we are all still subject to prejudice and hostility because of who we are.”

The Tower lit up last night in rainbow colours, synonymous with the LGBT community, while a rainbow-coloured flag was flown half-mast from the town hall in Talbot Square, and from the top of the Tower.

Blackpool Council leader, Coun Simon Blackburn, who attended a vigil in London after meeting with counter extremism minister Lord Ahmad, said: “I attended the Pride festival in Blackpool this weekend, which was a fantastic occasion to celebrate equality and show our support for the LGBT community.

“It is devastating to think that at the same time on the other side of the world tragedy was unfolding.

Members of Blackpool's LGBT community held a vigil outside the Flying Handbag pub to mourn the victims of Orlando's mass shooting. Father Martin Murray reads the lesson

Members of Blackpool's LGBT community held a vigil outside the Flying Handbag pub to mourn the victims of Orlando's mass shooting. Father Martin Murray reads the lesson

“We need to continue to stand together as a town, a country and a world to prevent terrorists driving a wedge between different faiths, races and nationalities.”

The massacre in Florida was carried out by Omar Mateen, 29, after he pledged allegiance to Islamic State, according to reports.

Members of Blackpool's LGBT community held a vigil outside the Flying Handbag pub to mourn the victims of Orlando's mass shooting. Philip Willows and Debbie Porter-Philip met two of the Orlando victims during a recent Gay Pride in Gran Canaria

Members of Blackpool's LGBT community held a vigil outside the Flying Handbag pub to mourn the victims of Orlando's mass shooting. Philip Willows and Debbie Porter-Philip met two of the Orlando victims during a recent Gay Pride in Gran Canaria

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Members of Blackpool's LGBT community held a vigil outside the Flying Handbag pub to mourn the victims of Orlando's mass shooting. Wiping away a tear as the victims' names are read out

Members of Blackpool's LGBT community held a vigil outside the Flying Handbag pub to mourn the victims of Orlando's mass shooting. Wiping away a tear as the victims' names are read out

Members of Blackpool's LGBT community held a vigil outside the Flying Handbag pub to mourn the victims of Orlando's mass shooting. Linked hands during the minute's silence

Members of Blackpool's LGBT community held a vigil outside the Flying Handbag pub to mourn the victims of Orlando's mass shooting. Linked hands during the minute's silence