Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed used the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community.
“On June 12, 2016, amidst the celebration of Pride Month, 49 individuals lost their lives in an unspeakable tragedy in Orlando, Florida,” Reed said in a release. “Today, on the anniversary of this horrific event, we remember those whose lives were lost and those that were forever changed. Our thoughts and prayers were with you then, and they remain with you today.”
Reed said symbols of unity matter.
So, in recognition of the contributions of the city’s LGBTQ community he said the city “will install the rainbow crosswalks at the intersection of Piedmont Avenue and 10th Street, year-round.” The Midtown intersection is known as a hub for the LGBTQ community and “it’s fitting that such an important and recognizable place should feature the rainbow flag. We must never forget that love defeats hate, and light defeats the darkness.”
Robert Sepulveda Jr., a former Atlanta resident who spearheaded the initial effort to paint the crosswalks and raised funds, now sees the result of his hard work.
There have been “ many ups and downs and as many twists and turns. As the designer and founder I remember when the rainbow crosswalks were only just an idea in my head I wanted to bring to the city not knowing how or if this was even a possibility,” he said in a statement. “ I knew Atlanta being in the deep south and having a history of such divisions needed these crosswalks as symbols of acceptance, tolerance and the diversity of the LGBTQ community and its allies.”
He remembered when the crosswalks were painted the first time.
"I always hoped the city would realize the importance of the crosswalks and make them permanent and, thankfully, two years later on the anniversary of Pulse the crosswalks have become permanent.”
The latest effort was kicked off by Atlanta musician and LGBTQ advocate Sarah Rose.
Rose, the LGBTQ issues advocate for Care2, spearheaded an effort to get the city to permanently paint at least one Midtown crosswalk the colors of the rainbow or transgender flags.
“This is an amazing day for Atlanta's LGBTQ community,” said Rose in a statement about the decision. "This Care2 petition was about more than a crosswalk, it was about over 20,000 people coming together to show they exist.”
The petition had received thousands of signatures, including that of mayoral candidate Ceasar Mitchell, who said the LGBTQ community faces renewed struggles against hate and intolerance, but the city will continue “to celebrate the beautiful diversity of our people.”