Metro Weekly

Loretta Lynch to LGBT community: “We stand with you”

Attorney General meets with victims' relatives and prosecutors in Orlando while investigation into shooting continues

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (Photo: United States Department of Justice, via Wikimedia).
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (Photo: United States Department of Justice, via Wikimedia).

This week, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch visited Orlando to meet with investigators and the families of the victims of the Pulse nightclub attack on June 12. While there, she pledged $1 million to the state of Florida to help pay for law enforcement, medical and counseling costs related to the mass shooting, The Associated Press reports.

Lynch called the attack on Pulse a “shattering attack, on our nation, on our people and on our most fundamental ideals” and “an act of terror and an act of hate.” She praised the actions of first responders for their efforts, and addressed the LGBT community directly.

“We stand with you to say that the good in the world far outweighs the evil,” Lynch said. “Our most effective response to terror and hatred is compassion, unity and love.”

Many in the LGBT community have noted that the Orlando attack highlights their vulnerability in places that have historically been, and continue to be, considered “safe spaces” to congregate.

Investigators may never be able to pinpoint a single motive for why gunman Omar Mateen went on the rampage that ended up killing 49 people and wounding 53 others. Lynch said that investigators have not discounted witness reports claiming that Mateen had visited Pulse before the attack, or that he had a profile on gay dating and hookup apps.

“We are still looking into that, and we are not ruling anything out,” Lynch said.

During the shooting, Mateen called 911 to report his crime while pledging solidarity with ISIS. On Monday, the FBI released a partial transcript of that 911 call and calls with police crisis negotiators, in which Mateen claimed to be an Islamic soldier. He demanded that the United States “stop bombing” Syria and Iraq, and even pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS.

Since 2013, Mateen had been interviewed by the FBI three times and was the target of two separate investigations for his suspected ties to terrorism. He was even placed on an FBI terror watch list while those investigations were underway, only to later be removed from that list.

Even though ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, the FBI says it has still found no evidence that a foreign terrorist organization had directed Mateen to carry out the attack. Rather, the FBI believes, Mateen became radicalized through exposure to online jihadist propaganda, something that Lynch confirmed yesterday in her comments.

“We believe that is certainly one avenue of radicalization,” the Attorney General said of the online propaganda, “but we want to know if there are others.”

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