“They picked the wrong community to mess with,” were the words of Keegan, one of hundreds of people from the wider Orlando area who had queued up to donate blood for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
In the searing heat, Keegan and others waited, for hours. For so many people, this was a worthwhile way to show solidarity, support and strength, at a time of loss.
While no-one I spoke to in the queue was personally affected by this tragedy, people still felt compelled to give up their time in this way.
As the day progressed, the offers of help ballooned as volunteers turned up to help those who were waiting in the queue. Local restaurants arrived with food donations, church groups brought water, local companies donated portable fans.
This show of togetherness was demonstrated in the range of people who showed up – there was young and old, gay and straight. And people from all faiths.
“Orlando Strong” is how many describe the spirit here. And this show of help and love has demonstrated that.
Sarah waited hours to donate blood
“All the people lining up to donate says a lot about the diversity we have here in Orlando… and about the way that the community will come together.
“When things like this happen, communities need to pull together.
“A lot of people in this line do not personally know anyone affected, but we know it affects our community and we want people to know that we stand strong.”
Gerard wanted to show his support
“After I heard about what happened last night I was pretty devastated about it. I wanted to give my support.
“I’ve been to the nightclub before but I wasn’t there last night… Every time I’ve been there it’s been pretty fun. It’s a very friendly atmosphere. Everybody’s having a good time, getting to know each other. There’s never been any trouble there before so I was pretty surprised when I woke up this morning and heard about what happened.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve felt very welcome. Orlando seems very gay-friendly.
“Last night a big attack on a specific group of people at a specific place – just to get so many people like that – was a big surprise to me.”
LGBT community under siege
Shanaz publicly condemned the attack
“We are here to help as much as we can… to share the hurt that everybody else has felt, we also feel the same. We condemn this act wholeheartedly.
“Hopefully the community will understand these [terrorist attacks] are acts of just a few people – they don’t reflect what everybody else [in the Muslim community] feels… This is not an act that we encourage at all, or that we accept or condone.
“I believe we all want to live in a world that promotes peace, love, unity and harmony.”
Amy donated bottles of water
“I had to do something. We should all be strong for each other.
“There’s way too much violence. I think we should share some love.”
Watch Rajini’s full report from the blood bank on Facebook here
Nur-Mohamed wanted to show solidarity
“I’m here to show my solidarity and to strongly condemn the shooting, the killing of innocent people. It is barbaric, it is satanic, it has no [place] in the world.
“Me as a Muslim, I’m here to tell the world that we are totally against it. This cannot be tolerated at all. Our hearts are with the victims and with the survivors and they will definitely be in our prayers.
“For something of this sort to happen in the holy month of Ramadan, we are not happy at all. We are here… to tell the people we are with you – you are not alone.
“I encourage all Muslims from all walks of life, wherever they are – let us come out and show our support and let us condemn [the violence].”