In the wake of a bias-motivated attack on an LGBTQ+ business in Orlando, Florida, community leaders and political figures are speaking out against the act of violence. On Wednesday evening, the windows of District Dive, a bar located in Orlando’s Milk District, were shot out. The Southern Nights complex, where the bar is located, also houses several other queer establishments.
In response, the Orlando Police Department (OPD) has characterized the crime as a hate crime and has distributed security footage of the incident across its social media channels. “The Orlando Police Department does not tolerate criminal behavior of any kind,” said OPD Chief Eric Smith in a statement. “Whoever committed this brazen vandalism against our city’s LGBTQ+ businesses will be held accountable.”
The footage shows an individual wearing a hoodie, pants, and possibly a surgical mask walking up to the complex and shooting out windows. LGBTQ+ leaders in Orlando have expressed their concern and solidarity with the affected businesses. “Orlando’s top LGBTQ bar strip has been vandalized,” tweeted LGBTQ+ activist and former state lawmaker Carlos Guillermo Smith. “Please be careful out there, ya’ll!”
The attack on District Dive has stirred up painful memories of the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016, in which 49 people were killed in the deadliest attack on the LGBTQ+ community in U.S. history. LGBTQ+ rights nonprofit The Dru Project, which was launched after the Pulse shooting, said in a statement, “We are dismayed at what seems to be a hate crime on another one of our queer spaces…As we learn more, please keep in mind the communities who are continually retraumatized by shootings like this.”
Florida state Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat, also spoke out against the incident, writing on Facebook, “Awful and unacceptable…We will do everything we can to find out who did this and remain committed to LGBTQ+ equality and safety for all.”