Orlando Shooting: Talking Points and Resources

Jun 12, 2016

Orlando Shooting: Talking Points and Resources

For those in the community responding to the shooting in Orlando, below is a collection of resources for the coming days and weeks of news coverage. You will find talking points, sample tweets, statements from community organizations, reports that may be useful, tip sheets on how to handle inbound media in a crisis, and background info from the news so far. We will be updating this resource periodically as new info emerges.

Talking Points

  • This terrible attack is rightly called a 'hate crime." No hate crime can be tolerated against any community, ever. All of us must stand together in denouncing prejudice directed at any group.
  • All Americans, and indeed all people, should be able to live their lives without fear of being targeted for their sexual preference, their faith, or the color of their skin. 
  • The LGBTQ community has stood side by side with the American Muslim community during challenging and difficult times.  We stand together against hatred, violence and demonization of entire communities, and we honor the experiences and work of  LGBTQ Muslims, who are living at the intersections of their LGBTQ identities and Islam. Today, we stand in solidarity with them and the entire LGBTQ community. [Credit: Adapted from Muslim Advocates statement]
  • The gun used in this horrific shooting was an AR -15, the same weapon used in the tragedies at San Bernardino and Sandy Hook. This is a pattern that cannot be allowed to continue. There have been 134 mass shootings this year alone. We need to come together as Americans and put an end to this ongoing tragedy. 
  • Religious, civic, and political leaders of every variety should stand together to denounce prejudice or violence that is directed at any group. Politicians who seek to exploit this tragedy demonstrate that they are not fit for leadership in this country, and their exploitation should be renounced. Our strength is our unity. 
  • Whatever warped justification the shooter may have claimed, his actions are a hate crime. He alone bears responsibility for this terrible crime. His family, his faith, and his community do not. Every religious tradition explicitly condemns the killing of innocent people, but murder knows no faith. 
  • Every religious tradition explicitly condemns the killing of innocent people. Murder knows no faith.
  • Mass murder is committed with many justifications. Dylann Roof, who murdered nine people in a South Carolina church, is a white supremacist; Robert Dear, who killed three at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic, holds fundamentalist religious beliefs; the San Bernardino shooters embraced violent Islamic extremism. We should treat all of these people as individually responsible for their actions and not unfairly judge all white people, or all religious fundamentalists, or  all Muslims.
  • This disgusting hate crime must not be compounded by additional hate crimes. The Muslim community, our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and the broader LGBTQ community, understand what it means to be targeted.  Over the past year, a taxi driver was shot in the back in Pittsburgh and a woman was assaulted by two men outside of her children's school—all based solely on their faith. Following the San Bernardino shootings, a Muslim store owner in New York City was attacked.  All Americans should be united against bigotry and violence directed at any minority, whether it is against the gay, lesbian and transgender community or against American Muslims or those perceived to be Muslim.

NOTE: If confronted with media questions on "the Muslim view" of homosexuality, we suggest the following: 

The Muslim faith is very diverse and views on homosexuality are as just as varied and complex as they are among Jews, Catholics, Evangelical Christians, and other denominations. There is no such thing as a "Muslim view" of homosexuality, but any decent person from any faith tradition should denounce this horrible hate crime—just as they should denounce any hate crime.

You can download the talking points here  Talking Points-Orlando Mass Shooting Updated 6.13.16


The top messages and insights from our first round of message testing are attached here -  ReThink Top Findings from MASA Message Testing

Vigil Signs

ReThink has created graphics that can printed out and used as vigil signs. You can download them here.

Reporter List

A list of breaking news reporters covering the tragedy thus far can be found here -  UPDATED: ReThink Orlando Breaking News Reporter List

Social Media

Some tweets to elevate:








Reports and Resources

Media Matters has compiled analysis of the media coverage of Orlando, as well as right wing media's reactions to President Obama's statements. They are also following the Trump's doubling down on his proposed Muslim ban following right-wing media's call for a halt to Muslim refugee resettlement in the U.S.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is also tracking and blogging about the response to the Orlando shooting from white supremacists and racists here.

The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding has a legislative map and report called "Manufacturing Bigotry." that looks at laws proposed in six issue areas, including anti-Shariah legislation and anti-gay marriage legislation. The report seeks to reinforce the importance of coalition building and the need to come together to fight hate, whether Islamophobia or homophobia.

What We Know About Orlando

A lone gunman opened fire at Pulse, a well-known gay nightclub in Orlando, FL. The shooting—which is now the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history—has left 50 dead and 53 wounded. We will continue to update this resource as more details emerge. The salient points as reported in the media thus far are:

  • A gunman carrying a handgun and assault-style weapon (an AR-15, the same make as what was used in San Bernardino and Sandy Hook) opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL early Sunday (2 am), killing at least 50 people and wounding at least 53 others.
  • This is now the deadliest mass shooting in US History.
  • Suspect has been identified as Omar Siddiquie Mateen, US Citizen of Afghan descent living in Port St. Lucie FL - Mir Siddiquie is the father of Omar Mateen, and told NBC News that his son got angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami a couple of months ago and thinks that may be related to the shooting. Siddiquie says: “We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident. ... We are in shock like the whole country.”
  • Mateen became a person of interest in 2013 and again in 2014. The Federal Bureau of Investigation at one point opened an investigation into Mateen but subsequently closed the case when it produced nothing that appeared to warrant further investigation.
  • Mateen was born in New York and was married for a time to a woman from New Jersey. That woman told the Washington Post that he repeatedly abused her during their marriage, which lasted from April 2009 to July 2011. “He was not a stable person,” the ex-wife said. “He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn’t finished or something like that.”
  • The father also says the incident has nothing to do with religion. UPDATE: the father has been linked to Afghan Taliban, and has posted videos to this effect.
  • According to a Reuters report, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Orlando nightclub shooting, in a statement released by their news agency, Amaq News.
  • NBC News reports the shooter called 911 mid-attack and pledged his support to ISIS.
  • This is also Pride Weekend in number of cities across the country—Rep. Adam Schiff has called the attack painfully reminiscent of the Paris shootings and said he will be marching in the West Hollywood Pride Parade with a heavy heart; security is being beefed up for the Pride festival in Washington DC.
  • Additionally, a man with weapons and explosives has been arrested—he was apparently going to L.A. gay pride parade, police say. The man (who is from Indiana) is in custody, and so far no link has been made to the Orlando attack. UPDATE: the man has now been identified as James Howell of Indiana.
  • Saturday was also Latino night at the nightclub and filled with Latinos and immigrants—intersection with both the gay community and the Latino community.


Muslim Advocates


Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD)



National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance



MSA National





Take On Hate Campaign

Joint Muslim Statement


Tools for Best Practices

​ReThink Media will continue to gather additional details on the attack and various responses by domestic and international leaders. In the meantime, we suggest organizations and advocates review some best practices on how to most effectively engage social media, draft press releases, and draft op-eds in a crisis. We're also including advice from Yusufi in Boston and advice on how to handle inbound media.

Best Practices Guide to Social Media in a Crisis_1.pdf
ReThink - Press Release Tip Sheet
ReThink - Op Ed Tip Sheet
Advice from Boston.pdf
Tips on Handling In-Bound Media Requests