|Hundreds came out for a vigil at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Arts in Orlando honoring the victims of the terror attack on Orlando nightclub Pulse on June 13, 2016.|
The Pulse owner and workers vow to reopen and rebuild the gay nightclub that was the target of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
The club's workers led thousands of mourners in chants of “Peace, love, Pulse” during a candlelight vigil Monday night outside the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando one day after 49 people were killed in an assault on the club during Latin Night.
Owner Barbara Poma, who founded the nightclub as a safe haven for Orlando’s gay community, welcomed the victims’ relatives into the Pulse family on Today on Tuesday.
“We just have to move forward and find a way to keep their hearts beating and keep our spirits alive,” she said. “We’re not going to let someone take this away from us.”
Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, said different groups will view the decision to reopen the nightclub differently.
It could be a painful reminder to those who were seriously injured or lost a loved one, or it could be made a home for activism for others, she said.
“I think the bigger message that they are trying to convey is that a terrible act like this not only shouldn’t stop us from having a place where people can go and be comfortable, but also that there is some way we can turn this into a positive symbol,” Rosenberg said.
It is very important, she says, that the Pulse owners are thoughtful and careful in deciding how and when they will reopen the club.
Therese Rando, clinical director at the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Loss, acknowledged that when it comes to psychology, what might work well for some bereaved individuals might not work as well for others.
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“Part of stepping out of the victim role for many people is to empower oneself and take the course of action necessary to assert oneself and make a statement symbolically,” she said, referring to the statement Poma is making by reopening the club and reclaiming it as a place that is important to the community.
Others may wish something different was done with the club, “something that would underlie the gravity of the situation,” she said.
It is never going to go back to business as usual, because what happened at Pulse can never be undone. “It’s an important part in the fabric of the community and country,” she said, “which may be enough to allow folks to be comfortable with the club's reopening.”
Charles Figley, a professor in disaster mental health at Tulane University, said reopening the club is “an absolutely fantastic idea.”
To Figley, the nightclub isn’t just a crime scene but a sacred place with the potential to bring the community together. It gives the victims’ relatives the opportunity to meet and connect with other members of the LGBT community.
“It’s very therapeutic, and it connects people,” he said. “It reinforces the love and caring in that particular community.”
Figley said the ultimate decision to reopen the nightclub should be left to the Orlando community and victims’ friends and family.
If Pulse is going to reopen for business to show it is not afraid, “then what better reason to invite everybody that was affected to come and be a part of the healing,” he said.
Not all locations of mass shootings require the same responses, and different communities have handled the aftermaths of these attacks differently.
One week after a gunman shot and killed nine people at a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., last June 17, churchgoers gathered again in the same room where bullets had been flying.
At the Century Aurora 16 movie theater in Colorado, it's business as usual almost four years after James Holmes opened fire in 2012 during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 and injuring 70. The movie theater reopened after six months of renovation.
It took about one month for the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, Calif., to reopen its offices after married couple Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik shot and killed 14 people Dec. 2. The campus, which includes two office buildings and a conference center, reopened with heightened security, including a fence around the complex and security guards at every entrance. The conference center where the shooting took place remains closed indefinitely.
Residents of Newtown, Conn., voted to demolish Sandy Hook Elementary School after 20 students, ages 6-7, and six educators were shot and killed by Adam Lanza in 2012. A new school is being built on the site.
- The observation deck of the Tower at the University of Texas-Austin, where Charles Whitman barricaded himself in 1966 while shooting at random, killing 14 and wounding 32, was closed for two years before being reopened to the public.
- The Luby’s Cafeteria in Kileen, Texas, where George Hennard drove his truck through the front window before opening fire and killing 23 patrons in 1991, reopened five months after the shooting. It permanently closed in 2000, and the building is home to a Chinese restaurant.
- Despite initial plans to reopen the San Ysidro McDonald’s where James Huberty shot and killed 21 people and wounded 19 others in 1984, the fast-food chain was demolished.
- After two teens went on a shooting spree at Columbine High School in 1999, killing 13 people, the school reopened its doors the following fall.
- The Washington Navy Yard Building, where 12 people were killed and four were injured by gunman Aaron Alexis in 2013, reopened in 2015 after extensive renovations changed the building’s layout and appearance.