The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) joins the chorus of voices around the world expressing outrage at the appalling act of violence and hate that occurred this weekend in Orlando. The Commission extends its condolences to the victims and their families, and stands in solidarity with Orlando and its LGBT community.

While the reasons for the shooting are still under investigation, it is clear from the details confirmed thus far that the Pulse nightclub was intentionally targeted. This was a safe haven and bastion of expression for individuals most in need of such spaces, including LGBT individuals and members of other minority communities. Yet in an instant, the pull of a trigger injected hateful violence into that space. Families and friends are left to pick up the shattered fragments. The rest of the world must grapple with what can be done to help, and what steps can be taken to prevent such violence from occurring again.

“Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote that ‘Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.’ While the epicenter of this latest tragedy is Orlando, we are all affected,” said Executive Director Tanya Hughes. “Each of us has a responsibility to strive for peace, equality, and understanding in our own communities.”

In the wake of events such as this, it is also important to remember that the actions of one should not cast a shadow on the character of an entire group. No one involved in the loss of a life – be it in Orlando, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Chicago, Baltimore, or elsewhere – speaks for their race, color, religion, gender, disability, or other identity.

As one of the oldest state civil rights agencies in the nation, the CHRO has borne witness over the decades to the cruel and vicious ways in which hate can manifest. While we struggle to comprehend what can drive someone to commit acts of such abhorrent violence, we cannot forget that ignorance and the animosity it feeds are present in all of the ideas, acts, and rhetoric that seek to divide our communities. “Now more than ever it is important for all of us to stand united to eliminate discrimination in all of its forms, and wherever it arises,” added Deputy Director Cheryl Sharp.