Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attempt at honoring the victims of one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history fell short, according to critics.
On the third anniversary of the tragedy, when a gunman opened fire at Pulse, the Orlando gay nightclub, the Republican directed all state flags to be at half-staff, and asked Floridians to pause for a moment in remembrance of the victims.
DeSantis also issued a proclamation “to honor the lives” of the victims, acknowledging “June 12 as Pulse Remembrance Day,” but he failed to mention the LGBTQ community in his tribute.
In the early hours of June 12, 2016, a man who claimed allegiance to ISIS went into the club during Latin-themed night and started shooting indiscriminately. He killed 49 people, most of them part of the LGBTQ community, and injured more than 50.
Rep. Anna V. Eskamani, a Democrat and native of Orlando native took to Twitter to express her outrage:
“This is completely straight-washed and an insult to #HD47,” she tweeted, referencing the district she represents.
Earlier in the day, Eskamani had tweeted, “My heart is heavy as we recognize the 3 year mark of the #Pulse nightclub shooting that left 49 mostly queer black & brown people dead. This was an attack on #LGBTQ people & we stand united in combating bigotry & hate, and honoring those who are no longer with us through action.”
When she read DeSantis’ declaration, and saw that he had scrubbed any mentions of the community who had been most affected by the tragedy, she posted the governor’s declaration next to one written by former Gov. Rick Scott in 2018.
His declaration had swapped “LGBTQ community” and with the “Orlando and Central Florida community.”
“Based on these side-by-side Pulse proclamations, Governor Rick Scott was a better friend to LGBTQ Floridians than DeSantis,” she wrote.
“PS: Governor Rick Scott is a low bar to not meet. Absolutely shameful,” she added.
After the social media backlash that followed, DeSantis went into damage-control mode and released a new statement.
“I have directed today’s Pulse Remembrance Day proclamation be corrected and re-issued to include a direct reference to our LGBTQ and Hispanic communities who were attacked during this horrific act of violence at Pulse three years ago,” he tweeted.
His office later released a statement claiming the edits were a “staff error.”