Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera. Martin Benitez Torres. Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez. Juan P. Rivera Velazquez. These men were four of the victims of the attack in Orlando on Sunday. They are also four of the many Latinos who were in Pulse, the gay night club, for its Latin night when the shooting began. “More than half of the victims” were of Puerto Rican descent, Reuters reports.
As Americans mourn the 49 murdered and 53 injured victims, the Latino community in central Florida is trying to figure out what to do next. Victims’ families need grief counseling and support services. Some may have an uncertain immigration status or may not speak English. And bodies, eventually, may need to be shipped back to people’s homes in other countries and territories. All of that requires connections, time, and money, which might not be available to many of these families in Florida, a state where the average Hispanic person’s income is under $21,000 per year.
Over the last two days, more than 20 Hispanic organizations have formed a coalition called “Somos Orlando,” which is offering assistance to the victims’ families and information for people who want to volunteer. Their website lists information about Spanish and English counseling from organizations like the Hispanic Family Counseling Center and locations where people can give blood. They also held a press conference Monday to offer support to the LGBT community and to “bring attention to the fact that the media has largely ignored the fact that it is an overwhelmingly Latino population that was impacted,” said Zoe Colon, the director of Florida and Southeast Operations at the Hispanic Federation, one of the organizations involved in the group.