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Community Was Targeted, Retired Police Detective Says


And I just want to tell you about someone I met here in Orlando last night. You want to talk about strength in helping a community. It's Vivian Rodriguez. She's a former NYPD detective who served there as head of the Gay Officers Action League. Since moved to Orlando, she's ready to try and help her community through this.

VIVIAN RODRIGUEZ: As a police officer, as a New York City detective, we have to remain strong for everyone else 'cause if we were to break down in front of people that we're supposed to be helping, that wouldn't be good. So we try to keep strong, you know, as much as we can.

GREENE: I met her at a candlelight vigil in downtown Orlando. Rodriguez, 21 years of serving in the NYPD, including during 9/11, she retired from the force in 2004, saw 9/11 and has now had to go through what happened in Orlando at that nightclub, Pulse.

RODRIGUEZ: I visited that nightclub before. And they're probably a lot of individuals that I am going to unfortunately know very well. And, you know, as I said, I have no words to express the grief that we all have within the community. But I think that every American is going to share that grief.

GREENE: There are Americans who don't feel a connection with the LGBT community and want to think of this less as an attack on that community and more as an attack on the United States and an attack on them. Is that OK?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, this attack is an attack on America because we're all Americans. And if you hurt one American, you hurt all of us. The LGBT community, as you can see, we come from all religions. We come from all different backgrounds. And this particular incident, it was an LGBT nightclub. But as you could see, 90 percent of the victims were Hispanic

GREENE: What do you tell someone in the LGBT community who hears someone focusing on this as an attack on America broadly? And they react by feeling, no, you're playing down the extent to which the LGBT community was targeted here. What would you tell someone like that?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, I think all Americans should know definitely that the LGBT community was targeted so that you cannot discount that. I mean, all the information leads to that. And as the case is closed and the facts come out, it'll show that LGBT Americans were targeted.

GREENE: The voice there Vivian Rodriguez, she's a former NYPD police detective, now lives in Orlando. And she is president of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida, one of the many voices we are listening to as we broadcast here from Orlando. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.