LA County Board of Supervisors could have a majority of women. Photo by John Schreiber.
LA County Board of Supervisors could have a majority of women. Photo by John Schreiber.

The Board of Supervisors observed a moment of silence Tuesday for victims of the Orlando shooting and their families, and urged county residents to continue to fight prejudice against LGBTQ people.

Supervisor Don Knabe opened the meeting with a prayer.

“We come with heavy hearts,” Knabe said, extending the county’s sympathy and condolences to those who lost loved ones in the “horrible and horrific Orlando situation.”

Supervisor Hilda Solis called the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history “an outrageous act of violence.”

The 49 people killed and another 53 wounded by gunman Omar Mateen at the gay nightclub Pulse were mostly Latino, Solis noted.

“This tragedy is a harsh and sobering reminder of the continuing need for committing resources to educate and prevent prejudice and violence in all of its forms,” Solis said.

“The mass shooting in Orlando is an extreme expression of an all-too- common, everyday homophobic, transphobic, sexist and racist violence facing gender non-conforming people, especially of color, in the United States and around the world,” Solis said before extending “heartfelt condolences and compassion to the families … and loved ones of those who were killed” and asking for prayers for those still healing.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl was joined on the dais by more than a dozen senior county employees who identify as members of the LGBTQ community, including Department of Health Services Director Mitchell Katz, Assistant Sheriff Terri McDonald and Assessor Jeffrey Prang.

“I’m kind of sick of moments of silence … I’m ready for moments of screaming and moments of rage and moments of weeping and moments of keening and moments of decision and moments of commitment and all of the things that we talk about after each of these tragedies,” Kuehl said.

Kuehl, a longtime advocate for gay rights, said she was proud of the work the county, California and the country had done to try to eliminate “inherited hatreds”‘ and called on residents to rededicate themselves to working against prejudice and violence.

“There will never be enough grief, there will never be enough words, there will never be enough that we can do,” Kuehl said, holding back tears.

The county’s Commission on Human Relations also issued a statement expressing “our most profound sympathies and condolences to the people, their families, friends and communities, whose lives were so brutally ravaged by the recent violence in Orlando.”

The commission’s preliminary analysis for 2015 found that anti- gay/lesbian hate crimes in the county had reached their highest level in more than a decade.

“However, we know that, together, with deliberate, persistent effort, we can transform prejudice into acceptance, inequity into justice, and hostility into peace,”‘ the statement continued.

The commission also cautioned against other forms of prejudice.

“We must not allow the violence in Orlando to lead to increased Islamophobia and further tragedy and loss of innocent life,” the statement continued. “We must remind ourselves and those around us that the actions of one person do not in any way represent the beliefs of the thousands of Muslims who we live and work with each day, and that we need to defend them against those who would act out of anger and ignorance or political convenience to do them harm or deny them basic rights.”

—City News Service

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