The Pulse Museum is Dead; Nonprofits should not be involved in a Future Public Memorial
This was my response to the horrible commentary published in the Orlando Sentinel that suggested the City of Orlando follows the lead of the privatized 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
The 49 Families Should Lead the Public Pulse Memorial
The purchase of the Pulse Nightclub by the City of Orlando felt rushed. Days after it was publicly announced, the City Council voted to give $2M to the property owners knowing it was more than the property was worth. One of those owners, Barbara Poma, had already taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary through the onePULSE Foundation, which failed at its mission to produce either a museum or a memorial but succeeded in taking the families and survivors on a 7.5-year roller-coaster ride through hell.
Now, we are finally on track to have a public memorial for the 49 murdered at Pulse.
But Never Forget.
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum helped to create the mess we were forced to endure and should NOT serve as a model for memorializing mass murder. Paid executives from the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum have supported the onePULSE Foundation and helped legitimize their “capital projects” to turn a mass shooting into Orlando’s next attraction.
Anthony Gardner, Former SVP of Government and Community Affairs at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is still on the OnePULSE Foundation’s Chairman’s Ambassador’s Council even after onePULSE has abandoned both the memorial and museum.
Turning a mass shooting into a $100M memorial-museum campus for tourism was never a good idea. Pulse families and survivors have been resisting since the museum was announced in 2019, just like 9/11 families also protested the exhibition and monetization of their tragedy. However, unlike in Orlando, these 9/11 families were bypassed and the powers that be successfully transformed mass murder into an industry worth millions in New York City.
The only people who should have a say in the future public Pulse memorial are the 49 families. Not the taxpayers, the OnePULSE Foundation, the so-called “experts,” and definitely not local politicians.
The 49 families have been put through enough over the past 7.5 years. They should lead this process without interference from anyone.
If the City can spend $2M of taxpayer money to purchase the Pulse property without taxpayer input, then the 49 families should be able to design the memorial that they want for their murdered children, brothers, sisters, and partners—without taxpayer input.
Give them a budget, offer them guidance, and get out of their way.