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Thousands rally in New York for Orlando victims
[NEW YORK] Thousands of people gathered at the birthplace in New York of the gay rights movement Monday to honor the Orlando victims, demand tolerance and call for tighter gun control.
The crowd packed the street outside The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village carrying rainbow pride flags and posters saying "We Stand With Orlando" as a string of LGBT activists addressed the rally.
Speakers called for US-wide tolerance of gay, lesbian and transgender rights, a ban on assault weapons, tougher background checks for those who purchase guns and stinging rebuke of Islamophobia in America.
Leaders of the gathering, organised by the LGBT community, read out the names and ages of the 49 people who were shot dead at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
"When thousands of people come together in love, in support, it is a renunciation of hatred," said Mayor Bill de Blasio, paying tribute to the dead, who included a nursing school student from Brooklyn.
He listed the names and ages of the victims on his Twitter feed.
New Yorkers would never accept anyone sowing hatred and division, de Blasio said, adding: "that means you Donald Trump," referring to the Republican presumptive White House nominee, a Manhattan billionaire.
Mr de Blasio urged Americans from across the country to come to New York to take part in the city's Gay Pride parade on June 26.
"Come join us," he said.
"It will be safe and we will protect each other and we will send a message to this nation and to this world of what our society should look like."
Roads were closed and there was a strong, armed police presence patrolling the crowd in a spot where mourners have been coming for two days to lay flowers and pay tribute to the dead.
The Stonewall Inn considers itself the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement where members of the gay community rose up against harassment from police officers on June 28, 1969.
At the time, police raided gay bars when it was illegal to serve gay people alcohol or for gays to dance with each other, the Inn said.
New York, America's largest and most diverse city home to 8.55 million people, considers itself a beacon for gay rights across the world.