There are days of mass trauma that, if you were alive when they happened, you have a visceral memory of exactly where you were when the news scorched into your brain. The Pulse Orlando shooting is one of those days for most queer and trans people living in America. I was walking up the steps of the 42nd St subway station and it was a sunny day, which seemed odd to me as tears streamed down my face. Forty-nine people lost their lives in the Pulse shooting. That happened almost two years ago.
On the anniversary of Pulse this year, activists are planning a mass “die-in” at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and survivors of the recent Parkland, Fl. school shooting have helped organize efforts. Amanda Fugleberg, a lifelong Orlando resident who lives 15 minutes from Pulse, was shaken by the events on June 12, 2016. “It was the first news I saw when I woke up that day and I remember the death toll just rising,” she told The Advocate. “It brought me to tears to know something like that happened so close.”
Fugleberg is now planning to lead the die-in — an idea which came to her a week and a half ago. Along with co-founder Frank Kravchuk, the duo pulled together proper permitting to make the protest happen. A die-in is a political demonstration in which people lie down as if they’re dead.
“Fugleberg also reached out to Parkland survivor-turned-activist David Hogg, who just led a successful die-in protest against a Florida grocery chain for supporting a National Rifle Association-backed candidate. She says Hogg expressed strong support for the idea and helped publicize the event,” reports The Advocate.
Kravchuk says he hopes to see more than 100,000 people at the die-in on June 12 in front of Capital Hill. And their message will be one that expands beyond Pulse and the forty-nine lives lost — but also focuses on the violence around this country as a direct result of gun violence. The noon die-in will last 12 minutes — the 700 second time period is meant to honor the approximate 700 victims of mass shootings who have died since the Pulse massacre took place. Preceding the die-in with be a rally for gun reform starting at 10:30am.
News of this national event has spread quickly and even inspired other die-ins across the country at political and NRA offices alike.
The Twitter account for the event amassed thousands of followers within hours, proving that their message is one that rings true for many. Organizers have also set up a GoFundMe page to raise resources for The Foundation of the National Die-in.
While neither Fugleberg or Kravchuk knew anyone directly impacted by the Pulse shooting, they are both Orlando residents and allies to the LGBTQ community.
The policy demands they are making through this event are stronger screening for gun ownership. “I’d like to see universal background checks, which right now are not great considering the Pulse shooter was able to acquire guns when he’d been on an FBI watch list,” Fugleberg told The Advocate.