Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Interview with Ricardo J. Negron Almodovar.

Ricardo J. Negron Almodovar liked to go out just about every Saturday night. On the evening of June 12, 2016 he was at a food truck event around 10:30 PM before taking an Uber over to Pulse Nightclub by himself. He got there right before the midnight show. There was a performer from NYC there that night, and she was by the bar. Her act was as Jennifer Lopez, it was all very campy. Kate was the bartender.

Ricardo had just closed out his bar tab when it all started. He thought that the loud bangs might just be a part of the music. Then he saw people fall to the floor. Was there a fight outside, he thought to himself, perhaps the gun fire was outside in the parking lot.  The bar he was at was close to a door to the patio. Before he knew what happened someone was on top of him. Glass was shattering all around him. When he finally got out to the patio, he paused. It was dark outside. He couldn't see the gate. People were crushing into each other since the doorway acted like a funnel. The wood fence was 7 to 8 feet tall and he started trying to kick it down. the person next to him found the gate door and Ricardo fell in the crush of people trying to get out. People ran over him, stepping on him. He lost a shoe in the chaos.

He was worried that the argument might be outside and that there might be somebody shooting there. When he got out, a girl was asking if anyone spoke Spanish just before she was offered a ride. Her friend was also trampled.

Ricardo works for Proyecto Somos Orlando, powered by the Hispanic Federation. In the immediate aftermath of the Pulse Nightclub massacre, the Hispanic Federation, through its Orlando office, joined forces with local Latino-led institutions to create Proyecto Somos Orlando as a campaign to coordinate the city’s Latino social services sector and raise awareness of the need to provide the victims and their families with high-quality culturally-competent assistance. The organization will address the long-term needs for mental health services that are culturally competent and bilingual.

Ricardo travels quite a bit for the job. He has considered leaving Orlando but the job keeps him here. Orlando no longer feels like home. Any time he goes on a date, Pulse always comes up. Pulse always hangs over any relationship. He has made friends with other survivors. They interact just like any friends unless one of them has a breakdown moment. He really didn't want to be in Orlando for the one year. He feels that the entire Pulse building should be brought down. The site could feel like Central Park, whatever become of the site, the families should decide. People who weren't there shouldn't step in and try to make a name for themselves. People who lost love ones should have the primary input.

There have been mornings that Ricardo has had trouble getting up. He has a Pulse tattoo on his arm, it is a rainbow EKG line with a heart interrupting the beat. He has a much bigger tattoo on his right pectoral muscle. He wants people to live and let live. This shouldn't have happened. What the world needs is acceptance, mental health assistance, and gun laws. It all comes down to education. If the younger generation learns acceptance, the world could be a better place.

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