North Portland businesses show support, solidarity after Orlando - KPTV - FOX 12

North Portland businesses show support, solidarity after Orlando shooting

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Some of the rainbow flags at businesses on N. Mississippi Monday. Some of the rainbow flags at businesses on N. Mississippi Monday.
Stephen Reichard next to the flags he bought Monday. Stephen Reichard next to the flags he bought Monday.
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

On a popular North Portland street Monday, there was a powerful message: nearly two dozen rainbow flags in the windows of various businesses in the wake of Sunday’s massacre in Orlando.

“My daughter called and was – she lives in Atlanta – she was incredibly upset, and that’s when I really went online and saw what happened and that it was a hate crime,” Stephen Reichard, the Executive Director of the ReBuilding Center on North Mississippi, said.

Reichard said he knew he had to do something, so he bought a stack of rainbow flags and made them available to other nearby business owners.

By Monday afternoon, nearly two dozen had left his desk.

“I think probably people are in a lot of pain today,” he said. “I know it’s hard for people to process that kind of hate, and knowing that others are feeling the same way that you do is, you know – helps you feel better and helps you to process things like this.”

It’s a message of love, said Karli Tarkowski at Black Wagon, one of the businesses that picked up one of Reichard’s flags.

“And continuing to love regardless of who is out there doing what,” he added. “And still mourning as well, mourning the losses of everybody.”

Sunday’s shooting hit people in the LGBTQ community especially hard.

Many of them gathered for free counseling, therapy and support services at Q Center Monday evening, known as a safe space to celebrate diversity.

Program Director Raina Daniels said people feel scared and isolated in the wake of the shooting in Orlando, and many people in the gay community have been targeted for years.

“Many members of our community feel very unsafe on a regular basis: walking down the street, finding housing, eating lunch, trying to go to the bathroom in a public space,” she said. “Our community is generally really deeply affected by grief right now as a whole, by fear and trauma that comes from knowing that public spaces are very unsafe.”

A vigil will be held at the Q Center on Thursday from 7-9 p.m. in partnership with Pride Northwest.

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