Hundreds of people came together outside the landmarked Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village last night to grieve and express solidarity with the victims of the Sunday morning massacre in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Gathered outside of a bar that has long been hallowed ground for the American gay rights movement, mourners held close to one another, quietly sobbed, wove flags, and cheered. Many were speechless, dazed by the news that so many LGBTQ people had been gunned down where they had felt safest.

"This massacre did not happen in a vacuum," said Ann Winthrop, who shouted her message of outrage from a stoop near the bar. "Members of our community are being attacked and killed every day in this city, in this country, and all over the world."

"Clubs are safe spaces, and historically always have been. And so to attack at that point, in that way, is so alarming to us," Brandon Cordiero, 28, said amidst the packed crowd, which rallied just after 6 p.m. and stayed outside Stonewall for hours. Cordeiro had helped to organize Sunday night's vigil at Stonewall. "I woke up and saw what had happened. Without even thinking I said 'We need a vigil.'"

Around Cordiero, chants of "No hate!" shifted to "Fuck hate!" and dozens laid flowers outside of Stonewall while a high-alert NYPD presence loomed in the background. Some admitted to being fearful of new violence breaking out at the vigil. "Of course I was nervous about coming. We're nervous for our gay pride month. It always crosses your mind," Queens resident Chad Ryan, 38, said.

"Gay bars started a revolution. It's the place where we feel safe. For the majority of people who come out of the closet, it's the first place they go," Ryan continued.

As some mourners returned home, the vigil turned into a protest march, as dozens of people made their way up Seventh Avenue, stopping traffic and spontaneously blocking intersections. The NYPD, which is known for aggressively cracking down on disruptive marches that take to the streets, was noticeably lenient. Later in the evening that tone changed, however, as mounted officers disrupted crowds marching near Times Square. According to an NYPD spokesperson, five protesters were arrested on 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.

Gay pride flags were waved alongside American and Puerto Rican banners, and chants of "New York is Orlando, Orlando is New York" were met with supportive horns from motorists on 14th Street as the protest group marched toward, and then congregated in, Union Square. In the park, 50 electronic candles were lit and a moment of silence was held in honor of those killed.

Aquib Yacoob, a gay Muslim man, used a megaphone to speak to the crowd just after 8 p.m. "Last night, at 5 a.m., I was at a gay club. It's ramadan, I'm not drinking, I was hanging out. I was enjoying the space, I was enjoying the people, I was enjoying the love. Then I saw my newsfeed, and I was terrified. I wanted to go home. I wanted to hide under my blanket and not come out. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't feel, I couldn't be."

Yacoob, 23, paused for a moment. "But today I came out. I saw the crowds outside of Stonewall, I see the crowds gathered here and I have hope. I know we will fight and I know we will win. We're awake, finally. The LGBT community is awake to violence, the senseless killing."