Barbara Poma, the owner of Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, has vowed to return to the club and rebuild after a jihadist massacre took the lives of 49 patrons and employees on Sunday night.
“I have to go back to that club,” Poma told Today’s Matt Lauer on Tuesday, asserting that she would not shut down the space, though she still does not have access to it as it remains an active crime scene. “We just have to move forward and find a way to keep their hearts beating and keep our spirits alive,” she added. “We’re not going to let someone take this away from us.”
Poma explained that she opened the club in honor of her brother, who died of complications from AIDS and was gay. She named it Pulse because, she explained, “it has to do with your heartbeat, keeping your heartbeat alive.”
Poma confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel that any new iteration of Pulse would include a memorial to those killed this week. “Anything we would ever do would include a memorial. We are still working through our grief,” she said in a statement through a spokeswoman.
The Sentinel notes that the idea of reopening Pulse does have some supporters. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs told the newspaper she would like to see a memorial at the site. “I think that it’s up to the owner of the property obviously to choose what the [future] use of the property will be but I would support any efforts to memorialize Pulse either on that site or someplace else,” she said.
The effort to rebuild Pulse will take months at least, both because of the police need to maintain the site as a crime scene until all evidence is extracted and due to the financial burden of repairing the site and re-hiring security. Pulse employees must also find alternative sources of income while they wait for the site to rebuild.
USA Today notes that the fate of terrorist attack sites varies greatly depending on the attitudes of the communities there. Some, like Columbine High School or South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, reopened as soon as they could. Other communities, like Sandy Hook, Connecticut, eradicated the site completely. Sandy Hook Elementary has been demolished by a town council vote.