Protests against Donald Trump as he visits Pittsburgh massacre synagogue

Erika Holt
November 1, 2018

Pennsylvania's governor and the mayor of Pittsburgh declined to join him during the visit.

Amid the first funerals for victims on Tuesday, Trump visited Tree of Life.

About 1,800 people turned out for the funerals of Cecil and David Rosenthal - two mentally challenged adult brothers who were mainstays at the Tree of Life.

Robert Bowers was charged with 44 federal counts, including hate crimes, prosecutors announced on Wednesday. Eleven people, aged from 54 to 97, died.... He was met by Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of Tree of Life and the Israeli ambassador to the US.

About 2,000 people, many of them members of Pittsburgh's tight-knit Jewish community, held a protest march against Trump as his visit began, chanting, "Words have meaning", and carrying signs with slogans calling for unity, including: "We build bridges not walls".

The brothers were widely known as "the boys", the Rosenthals' sister, Diane Hirt, noted.

"It was tragic, it was sad - it was a handsome tribute to two wonderful, loving, innocent men", said Paul Taylor, a Catholic priest who attended the service, which he said was "standing room only".

The perpetrator, a man previously unknown to law enforcement, but an open anti-Semite who regularly posted messages of hatred on the Twitter-alternative site, Gab, is in federal custody.

"A lot of people are feeling really angry about this".

"It's just enraging that this type of hate crime could occur here and that the leadership of our country does not denounce anti-Semitism and does not denounce white nationalism and does not denounce neo-Nazism", mourner Joanna Izenson told AFP.

Another mourner, a retired teacher who only gave her first name Nancy, said: "I was finally able to cry". "It's just such a loss".

The Trumps first went inside the vestibule of the synagogue, where they lit candles for each victim before stepping outside.

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Gasps from the hospital staff were heard as President Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Jared Kushner passed by in an adjacent hallway. "We do not have enough public safety officials to provide enough protection at the funerals and ... at the same time draw attention to a potential presidential visit".

Mr Trump was accompanied by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is Jewish, and his daughter Ivanka, who converted to Judaism when she married Mr Kushner.

Protesters demonstrate near Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue.

"He didn't pull the trigger, but his verbiage and actions don't help", Carberry said. Adding to the anger was the shooting suspect's apparent targeting of a synagogue because of his outrage over a Jewish refugee agency that has become a target of conspiracy theories among Trump's nationalist base.

Local and religious leaders were divided on whether Trump should have come.

Democratic Mayor Bill Peduto had asked Trump not to come while the city was burying its dead.

Congressional leaders of both parties, the state's two US senators, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (D) and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), all did not join Trump during his visit.

A gunman stormed a Pittsburgh synagogue during Saturday service and shot worshippers, killing at least 11 and wounding six before he was arrested.

"What he's saying are the kinds of thing that a Nazi sympathizer would say and I don't think I'm exaggerating at all to say that". I like to tell people their history as coal and iron police from way back. "In the last row, everyone got killed".

The funerals for Wax and Younger were to be held later Tuesday.

Associated Press reporter Claudia Lauer reported from Philadelphia.

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