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Televised Reenactment of Pulse Shooting Sparks Outrage

Televised Reenactment of Pulse Shooting Sparks Outrage

Pulse nightclub owner Barbara Poma at New York Pride in June of 2016
Pulse nightclub owner Barbara Poma at New York Pride in June of 2016

GLAAD and Pulse victims are calling on Univision to scrap the scripted footage.

Plans by Univision to air a reenactment of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history prompted significant backlash in Orlando's LGBT community. The owner of the Pulse nightclub, where 49 people were murdered in a Latin Night massacre last June, has joined those calling on the network to rethink broadcasting the segment.

The reenactment of the Pulse shooting will air as part of a the Cronicas de Sabado program in an episode entitled "Bano De Sangre," which translates to "Blood Bath." While the network has pulled trailers promoting the show that incited anger, executives at the network say the broadcast will air as planned, at 7p.m. on Saturday.

Jose Zamora, senior vice president of strategic communications and news, released the following statement to The Advocate: "Univision News has set out to create a report that is deeply respectful of the many people whose lives were impacted by this tragedy and, at the same time, is faithful to the facts underlying this horrible crime."

But many in Orlando responded in horror when promotional trailers including footage of the reenactment were released. Barbara Poma, owner of Pulse, in a Facebook post criticized the network's plans: "Shame on Univision! The lack of respect and humanity for these grieving families and traumatized survivors is incomprehensible. DO NOT AIR THIS SHOW! YOU ARE RETRAUMATIZING PEOPLE. It is too soon. THIS IS IRRESPONSIBLE OF YOU."

She also shared an online petition that encourages signers to boycott the show and call Univision to make their feelings known. As of Friday afternoon, more than 1,100 had signed the petition.

"This station has made an unauthorized television show about the tragedy at Pulse on 6/12/16, which not only is based loosely on the truth but is clearly fiction in any ways and is only causing pain for the survivors and loved ones of our lost 49 Angels," reads the petition. "Tell them enough is enough. Boycott this show, call the station and tell them we will not support them getting rich off of others' pain and will not allow them to make up events and stories that never happened. Let the families and survivors heal. If you are not doing something to help our community and support those affected by 6/12/16, you are only causing more pain and we, as a community, gay and straight will stand together and fight against your hate, your propaganda and your greed."

The petition references the Pulse attack, where 49 people were killed after shooter Omar Mateen opened fire in the club; Mateen was killed by police after a lengthy standoff. Angel imagery since has come to represent the fatalities in numerous demonstrations and memorials in the city.

Univision is responding to complaints about its promotional videos. The Facebook page for Cronicas de Sabado noted that "some" promotional videos were pulled based on comments received by the network and show. However, the show's makers have defended the segment itself and say when the show is viewed in totality, it should conjure different response.

Many aren't convinced. Carlos Carbonell, co-founder of the LGBTQ Alliance in Orlando, called on Univision to pull its "incredibly insensitive re-enactment of the Pulse tragedy." And GLAAD, the LGBT media watchdog, today also joined in calls for the network to reconsider the broadcast: "This show's promotional videos alone have upset many - airing far too soon after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, which targeted the Latinx LGBTQ community. While GLAAD has not seen the segment in its entirety, if the ad is any indication, this could be a traumatic experience for many who are trying to heal from this tragedy."

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