ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Police arrested 10 protesters who were holding a sit-in Monday in the lobby of the building where U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has his Orlando office on the month anniversary of a massacre at a gay nightclub.
The protesters were arrested on misdemeanor trespass charges when the building closed to the public Monday evening, at the request of the building’s owner, according to the Orlando Police Department.
Dozens of protesters started the 49-hour sit-in Monday to remember the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
Gunman Omar Mateen opened fire at Pulse on June 12 in a rampage that left 49 victims dead and injured 53 at the gay nightclub. Mateen died in a hail of police gunfire after police stormed the venue following a three-hour standoff.
The protesters said they were targeting Rubio because of the support he has gotten from the National Rifle Association and his opposition to same-sex marriage.
“We’re here to make sure that 49 lives weren’t lost in vain,” said Anna Eskamani, a Planned Parenthood official who was helping lead the sit-in in the lobby of Rubio’s office building.
For about nine hours until they were asked to leave, the protesters held signs that said “(hash)SitForThe49,” sang songs, listened to speakers and laid 49 red roses on white papers printed with the names of each victim fatally shot in Pulse nightclub last month.
The protesters said they wanted all politicians to reject contributions from the NRA, and they wanted tighter restrictions on assault weapons, as well as universal background checks for all gun purchasers.
Rubio was in Washington, but his state director met with the protesters for more than five minutes.
“Senator Rubio respects the views of others on these difficult issues, and he welcomes the continued input he is receiving from people across the political spectrum,” Rubio spokeswoman Kristen Morrell said in an email.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.