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World reacts to Orlando shootings with vigils, support

By Ed Adamczyk
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Two women attend a candlelight vigil for the Orlando shooting victims in the Castro District in San Francisco on Sunday. Forty-nine people died when a gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/b0fe8a89c0706c0d16757436df5bec63/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Two women attend a candlelight vigil for the Orlando shooting victims in the Castro District in San Francisco on Sunday. Forty-nine people died when a gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 13 (UPI) -- Quickly-organized vigils honoring the victims of the Orlando, Fla., shootings were held around the world Sunday night.

A makeshift memorial of candles, rainbow flags emblematic of the gay community, and homemade signs supporting the LGBT mission and protesting hate and gun laws sprang up Sunday evening in front of the White House. Hundreds gathered as the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, D.C., marched up Pennsylvania Avenue singing "We Shall Overcome." The ensemble then gathered at the improvised memorial and performed the National Anthem.

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Similar shows of solidarity, largely organized on social media, occurred in cities after 49 people were killed in an attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday.

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More than 100 people participated in a vigil in Montreal's Parc de l'Espouir, with another planned for Thursday by Montreal Pride and Collectif Carre Rose, each an organization supporting the city's LGBT community. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre ordered the raising of the rainbow flag at City Hall, saying in a statement that "Montrealers stand in solidarity with all Americans affected by this terrible tragedy. We share in this grief and in the struggle against all forms of violence."

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Paris raised the American and rainbow flags before its City Hall Monday, after about 100 gathered for a spontaneous vigil Sunday night at Place Igor Stravinsky. French President Francois Hollande expressed "the full support of France and the French people to U.S. authorities and the American people during this ordeal" in a statement. Paris Mayor Anne Hildago said the lights of the Eiffel Tower will glow Monday night with the colors in the rainbow flag.

In New York, the normally illuminated top of the Empire State Building remained dark as a tribute. The nationally televised Tony Awards, honoring Broadway theater excellence and broadcast from New York's Beacon Theater, opened with a statement by host James Corden condemning the violence and pledging solidarity.

The vigil in San Francisco at Harvey Milk Plaza involved thousands of people and included an Islamic speaker, Dr. Suzane Barakat, who noted, "These tragedies are coming to us far too frequently, as a physician I see them as a symptom of a deeper illness, it is a disease of the soul that goes by different names."

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It followed a prayer service at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, after the Rev. Marc Hanley Andrus, Episcopal Bishop of California, ordered the church open for prayer in the face of the tragedy.

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