Immediately after the Pulse nightclub shooting, we learned there were several connections right here at home. Possibly the biggest was that the shooter lived and worship in Fort Pierce.
Many believe that is the reason people have made the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce a target since the Pulse masacre.
The horror and hurt of the Pulse shooting hit home for Meagan Tison in more ways than one.
“All of a sudden on Facebook, it’s popping up check yes or no, are you safe are you not safe,” said Tison.
First she feared for her friends who were inside the club at the time of the shooting. Then, she found out that the killer lived and prayed in her hometown, Fort Pierce.
The Islamic Center of Fort Pierce is just down the street from where she works.
“Then it’s linked to your hometown and now your hometown is cascaded in news crews.”
For Meagan, the frustration that lingers one year later is knowing people targeted the local Muslim community for the crime of one man.
“Would you want your kids treated that way,” said Tison. “Would you want your family members treated the way the community treated them.”
Just one month after the Pulse shooting, a member of the Islamic Center was beaten up in the parking lot. The attack is currently being prosecuted as a hate crime.
Then on September 11, a St. Lucie County man set the Islamic Center on fire. That man was later sentenced to 30 years in prison. The damage still visible today.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations says there are signs that this community is staying strong.
The Islamic center has relocated to a new location off Oleander Avenue. It is set to open permanently in the next few months.
“They have managed to move forward, especially after being the recipients of hate crimes,” said Wilfredo Ruiz, communications director at CAIR-Florida.