ORLANDO, Fla. — Pulse shooting survivor and Orlando political activist Brandon Wolf feels “galvanized” by what’s happening in the United States since George Floyd’s death.
“Because the very same teeth of hatred and bigotry that took my best friends and forty-seven others at Pulse nightclub is the same hate and bigotry that we see on display,” Wolf said. “It’s the same hate and bigotry that killed George Floyd in the streets of Minneapolis.”
Mentioning the recent deaths of Brianna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, Wolf concluded it’s the “same hatred and bigotry that we fight today, that we were fighting then, that we fought for centuries.”
Next week will mark four years since the Pulse nightclub terror attack, and though this year’s observance by the onePULSE Foundation will be virtual, Wolf said he feels victims are tied even closer together in their fight against injustice.
“It also serves as a moment for us to reflect on what we do as a community moving forward,” Wolf said. “And I really hope that when we talk about honoring the victims with action, that we don’t just mean showing up on June 12th in a virtual sense. That we mean honoring them by creating a world that they would be proud of. A world that treats everyone with dignity and respect.”
Wolf’s Action Plan
Wolf believes “unwinding systemic racism” is going to be hard and complicated, but there are some actions to consider right now:
1. Demilitarize the police.
“We have to ask ourselves why are police officers in the United States today trained and equipped like they’re going to war, instead of to serve the communities that they’re supposed to live in?” Wolf said.
2. Implement community review boards for police accountability.
“So that police officers are responsible to the communities that they serve for their actions. So that the police are not the ones tasked with policing themselves.”
3. Reconsider levels of funding for law enforcement and incarceration.
“We have to ask if those monies are actually doing the things that we want them to do,” he said. “Are they actually making our society safer? Better? And the answer is probably no.”
The Whole Conversation
Wolf reflected about the death of his friend Drew during the Pulse attack. He promised Drew he’d never stop fighting for a world of which he’d be proud.
He also told a detailed story of getting pulled over many years ago in Winderemere and how the police officer “mocked and jeered” at him.
“My experience is not nearly as traumatizing or horrific as others, but it also isn’t right,” Wolf said.