We Affirm

1. We affirm that survivors still have needs that have not been adequately met and all fundraising efforts in Orlando and beyond should be geared to meeting those needs. We should be investing in people and not in $40M buildings. All donations in relation to the mass shooting that occurred on June 12, 2016, should be focused on providing lifetime care to survivors. The OnePULSE Foundation does not provide care to survivors. Non-profits elsewhere in Orlando that are supposed to be meeting this need have not been adequate or do not have the funds to continue.

2. We affirm that the OnePULSE Foundation's museum project has been divisive, pitting survivors and community members against one another. This is, in part, due to the scarcity of funds allotted for the continued and lifetime care of survivors and the OnePULSE Foundation active efforts to raise millions of dollars for a museum (and not for them). Funds are needed to EXPAND existing services and ensure that all survivors get the financial support, medical services, community support programs, and mental health care they need for life. Due to this violence, the controversial museum project must cease.

3. We affirm that the proposed museum has been pitched by Barbara Poma and the OnePULSE Foundation to the community, the City of Orlando, and Orange County as a tourist attraction. These attempts to turn a mass shooting into a death tourism site is absolutely grotesque. 

 

4. We affirm that the OnePULSE Foundation's museum project has already turned the mass shooting into a spectacle. Any projects to memorialize the 49 lives that were taken need to be done on public property and as a public endeavor, not by a non-profit or on private property. The Pulse memorial labyrinth in Colonialtown provides the perfect example of how this can be done with integrity and as a community. It currently provides the public with a sanctuary to gather, reflect, and grieve FREE of charge. There is no tourist attraction associated with it. It was not created as an urban development project that will bring money to the area. This memorial was led by our amazing Commissioner Patty Sheehan and many Orlandoans do not know it exists. If any larger memorial projects are considered, they need to be done so in the same manner—as a true community project.

5. We affirm that there are already historical and memorial projects that have been done (and continue to be done), which have been led by the City of Orlando and our public institutions. The mission of the non-profit, which is run by the nightclub's owner, does not address the needs of affected communities and is redundant to already existing public and private projects.

6. We affirm that a group of dedicated volunteers can come together to create a memorial park, as has been done in responses to mass shootings in Aurora and Las Vegas. The city can also lead the way, as being done in Newtown. We do not need a divisive non-profit to be in charge of this project. No one needs to earn a high salary because we collectively need to build a memorial to honor the lives taken. We have other options than the OnePULSE Foundation's proposed spectacle—what they have called an expansive "urban renewal initiative," which includes a museum attraction and requires merchandising the tragedy.

 

7. We affirm that the OnePULSE Foundation was given public funds (see here and here), therefore, the public has a right to criticize, call for more transparency, and ask for real change.  

8. We affirm that there are legitimate conflicts of interest that have shaped the OnePULSE Foundation's museum development process. These include (1) continued ownership of the Pulse nightclub property by Barbara Poma, CEO of the OnePULSE Foundation; and (2) ongoing litigation between Barbara Poma, survivors, and victim's family members

9. We affirm that Barbara Poma's decision not to sell the Pulse nightclub property to the City of Orlando was not in the best interests of Black, Latinx, or LGBTQ+ communities, nor in the best interests of survivors or the public-at-large. We believe that her decision to keep the property was in her own best interests, which is substantiated by her $150,000.00 paycheck and her efforts to maintain her self-proclaimed leadership role which will provide her with a (most likely higher) paycheck in perpetuity. For this reason, we do not believe that the decision to maintain ownership of the Pulse nightclub property reflects the values of an LGBTQ+ ally. We understand Ms. Poma's personal connection the business, but on June 12, 2016, Pulse stopped being about her. Furthermore, we reiterate that maintaining ownership of the property and being CEO of the OnePULSE Foundation has created bias throughout the museum project's development, which we outline on this site.

10. We affirm that Barbara Poma's leadership decisions have caused significant harm and division to affected communities, which many of us have personally experienced. These have included: (a) inadequate and exclusionary methods of public engagement; (b) dismissing our calls for new, rigorous public debate; (c) ignoring survivor harassment in connection with the organization; (d) accepting a $150,000.00 salary that is 200% more than the amount proposed by our elected officials, when survivors have been publicly pleading and contacting the OnePULSE Foundation for financial assistance; (e) organizing a Board of Trustees that lacks appropriate community representation and diversity in terms of race and socioeconomic class; (f) presenting information in misleading ways to survivors, family members, and to the public, skewed by a conflict of interest; and (g) a lack of total, complete, and timely transparency. 

11. We affirm that the mass shooting at Pulse was a PUBLIC tragedy that defies efforts to privatize or monetize any aspect of the trauma, grieving, and rebuilding that has inflected our community ever since June 12, 2016. Therefore, the memorial project should also be a public project and not one run by a non-profit. 

12. We affirm that there are no deadlines. The community is not beholden to any timeline manufactured by the OnePULSE Foundation. Affected communities and the public should be able to critically to evaluate, re-evaluate, reconsider, interject, rethink, and intervene at each and every step of the development process. All voices should be heard and respected. Real changes should be made, not slick maneuvers to reframe the OnePULSE Foundation's project in light of our criticism.

13. We affirm that a non-profit 501(c)3 designation does not ensure ethical leadership, informed decision-making, or complete transparency; that there are activists who have criticized the non-profit industrial complex for some of the very things we call into question today with the OnePULSE Foundation. We also recognize the National Rifle Association (NRA) as a non-profit organization brimming with corruption and unethical spending practices.

14. We affirm that context matters. A self-appointed "CEO" title is insufficient in justifying any salary associated with a mass shooting. We must always acknowledge that we are responding to a mass shooting and there are other—more ethical—models that we can follow for memorial construction without salaries or merchandising the tragedy. We are aware that the foundation formed prior to a board being organized, therefore, we are not surprised that the board "elected" the very person who brought them to the table. This is why we firmly state that Barbara Poma is, indeed, self-appointed.

15. We affirm that owning the title to the Pulse nightclub DOES NOT bestow upon Ms. Poma the authority, qualifications, skills, or expertise required to ethically lead the monumental task of memorializing victims who identified as Black, LGBTQ+, and Latinx, nor any other projects meant to educate the public about the unique, complex, and overlapping histories of our communities. This has been confirmed by the divisive statement written by Ms. Poma that diminished the impact of the Orlando shooting on LGBTQ+ people around the world and pitted our communities against each other.     

16. We affirm that we do not seek to divide the community, but rather to ensure all families, victims, and survivors are respected and cared for through our actions and not our words. With open hearts, we welcome all those currently working with the OnePULSE Foundation to join us, instead. As a measure of good faith, we have even revised the tone of our message so that more people will hear it; so that our collective anger will not be used to dismiss us.