Large protests are expected Tuesday afternoon in Pittsburgh after President Donald Trump ignored demands from residents and members of the Jewish community that he stay away from the city—still reeling from the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue last weekend—until he fully denounces white nationalism and ends his hateful brand of politics.
"President Trump, words have consequences... The gunman who tore apart our neighborhood believed your lies."
—Bend the Arc coalition
In an open letter to Trump that's now garnered more than 72,000 signatures, local Jewish leaders wrote to the president that he is unwelcome in the city because the massacre of 11 congregants on Saturday was "the direct culmination of your influence," and that "your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement."
Despite the letter, Trump opted to visit Pittsburgh as the funerals for the victims began on Tuesday. In response, the local chapter of Bend the Arc—the progressive Jewish group behind the letter—has partnered with other organizations including branches of the Women's March and Indivisible for a 4pm event to "unite as a city to show our love for our neighbors, all our neighbors, whoever they are and wherever they come from."
Participants plan to sing songs for those killed in the shooting and march along Forbes Avenue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood, according to the Facebook event, which also accuses the president of inciting violence. "We cannot trust that you will protect all our neighbors, regardless of religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity/expression," the groups declared. "Your words, actions, and policies have only been to do the opposite."
"President Trump, words have consequences," the organizers added. "The gunman who tore apart our neighborhood believed your lies about the immigrant caravan in Mexico. He believed antisemitic lies that Jews were funding the caravan. These are all things you and your party have claimed, without evidence, things that drove this madman to take his anger out on peaceful, sabbath-observing Jews."
Join us in grieving, praying, & standing tall for all those we have lost and all those we love. Please join us in Jewish shiva ritual & community healing. We invite people to join us in mourning and to wear traditional black.
3PM @ Murray & Darlingtonhttps://t.co/2e1aW0gPiA pic.twitter.com/jGe6NfKj6n
— IfNotNowPGH (@IfNotNowPGH) October 30, 2018
Those marching with the Bend the Arc coalition, according to The Forward, will meet up with participants of the "Safety Through Solidarity" action, which is co-organized by the local chapters IfNotNow, the Democratic Socialists of America, Jewish Voice for Peace, and others.
"Today, President Trump will visit Pittsburgh. We do not welcome him. We do not need him. We stand with each other and mourn for our dead, and show up to love and protect one another."
Organizers of that 3pm demonstration said on Facebook: "Today, President Trump will visit Pittsburgh. We do not welcome him. We do not need him. We stand with each other and mourn for our dead, and show up to love and protect one another."
"We are going to be holding a public shiva and rally for all the victims of white supremacy in Pittsburgh and across our nation," IfNotNow activist Ella Mason told The Forward. "We certainly don't want Trump to feel welcome, should he come to Squirrel Hill... He needs to take responsibility for the fact that his dog-whistle politics has helped enable the kind of violent action we saw at Tree of Life."
Opposition to Trump's visit is not limited to local activists and the Jewish community. In addition to organized protests, the Washington Post reports that "a mourning family doesn't want to meet him. Top members of his own party declined to join him. The mayor has explicitly asked him not to come." Among those who declined invitations are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.).
Pittsburgh mayor declined invite to appear with Trump today, saying POTUS should not visit as the funerals begin. City didn't help plan and is worried about protests. Congressional leadership is not coming. Trump is not expected to speak. w/@seungminkim: https://t.co/vdfwNmLSED
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) October 30, 2018