Atlanta's Rainbow Crosswalk to Honor Orlando LGBT Victims Permanently
On the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, Atlanta turns tragedy into something beautiful.
Come rain or shine, Atlanta locals will soon walk across rainbows in the heart of midtown.
The city first painted rainbow colors onto the crosswalks at the intersection of 10th St. and Piedmont Ave., in midtown Atlanta, back in 2015, for Pride month. They did it again in 2016, and now, the colorful symbol of the LGBTQ movement will be sealed in the cement.
Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed announced the city will permanently paint the four crosswalks rainbow. The announcement came on the first anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, in which 49 people lost their lives when a gunman opened fire inside the gay nightclub.
"Today, on the anniversary of this horrific event, we remember those whose lives were lost and those that were forever changed," Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said on Monday. "Our thoughts and prayers were with you then, and they remain with you today."
Cities around the country paid tribute to the victims of the shooting on Monday, hoping to turn something tragic into something beautiful. Thousands of flowers, candles and other memorabilia decorated the outside the Pulse nightclub and locations around Orlando, including a baseball cap with a note: “Love from the Czech Republic.”
Last month, activists in Atlanta started a petition to have the rainbow crosswalks be a permanent feature in midtown. Over 20,000 signed the petition, including Atlanta City Council President Caesar Mitchell. Now advocates are hoping to see the rainbow installed in time for the 2017 Pride Festival in October, which occurs in addition to the June celebration.
“It signifies that the LGBTQ community is part of Atlanta’s story, and it’s important to recognize that along with any other part of our history,” Sarah Rose, a TK (title) with the TK organization Care2, told Atlanta’s WSB-TV.
The intersection where the rainbow crosswalks will remain is an epicenter of the city’s rich LGTBQ history. It sits near the corner of Piedmont Park, where in 1970 activists handed out LGBTQ literature, marking the beginning of the social movement in Atlanta. Popular gay bars also surround the intersection, marking it as the heart of the gay community and a central spot for remembrance of the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub.
"I believe this is a model for what we can do around the entire city,” Mitchell said.
Other cities mimicked the rainbow crosswalks for Pride Month and local Pride festivals. Atlanta now joins the group of cities – including San Francisco, Seattle and Key West – making the iconic symbol a permanent feature of their city center.