Trump to visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday in wake of synagogue massacre


Anna Bongardino | Visual Editor

Several hundred people gathered at the intersection of Forbes and Murray avenues Saturday evening for a vigil that paid tribute to the victims of the Saturday morning shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill.

Despite an open letter signed by nearly 40,000 people telling President Trump, in plain terms, that he is not welcome in Pittsburgh in the wake of the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre, the White House confirmed today the President and First Lady plan to visit the Steel City on Tuesday.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders began the press conference by denouncing the act of violence which claimed the lives of 11 Jewish Americans in Pittsburgh.

“This atrocity was a chilling act of mass murder, it was an act of hatred and above all, it was an act of evil,” she said.

Details about where and when the President will appear have not yet been released.

[Trump’s response to the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre shifted through the weekend before the White House announced his plans to visit Pittsburgh.]

Many in Pittsburgh have already voiced their opposition the President’s promise on Sunday to visit the City, which came hours after Trump suggested the incident wouldn’t have occurred if the synagogue had “armed guards,” and said at a campaign rally he considered cancelling the appearance due to a “bad hair day,” rather than the Tree of Life incident.

“For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement,” the letter, written by the progressive Jewish organization Bend the Arc and addressed to Trump, said. “You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your influence.”

The letter continued to list the Pittsburgh branch of Bend the Arc’s demands, including that Trump “fully denounce white nationalism,” “stop targeting and endangering all minorities,” “cease [his] assault on immigrants and refugees” and “commit [himself] to compassionate, democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all …”

[Thousands gathered to mourn the 11 victims of the hate crime in one of America’s most deeply rooted Jewish communities.]

Trump on Monday tweeted about the “great anger in our Country,” saying the “fake news media” is to blame. Sanders in the press conference also criticized the media, saying media outlets wrongly blamed the President for the events in Pittsburgh.

He then tweeted about an “excellent call” with Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right populist who was elected President of Brazil this morning. Bolsonaro is known to be an open support of dictatorships, and leverages hate speech against the LGBTQ+ community, women and people of color.