Protests as Trump visits Pittsburgh after synagogue massacre

October 30, 2018  

About 2,000 people protested in the city amid accusations that the US president’s rhetoric has encouraged antisemitism.

22:56, UK,
Tuesday
30
October
2018

By Sharon Marris, news reporter

US President Donald Trump faced protests as he visited Pittsburgh to pay tribute to the victims of the synagogue mass shooting.

Eleven people died after a gunman opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue during a baby naming ceremony on Saturday.

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Mr Trump stepped out of Air Force One on Tuesday accompanied by wife Melania, along with daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, who are both Jewish.

The US president’s visit was on the same day as the first of the victims’ funerals and comes amid growing accusations that his rhetoric has encouraged antisemitism.

Around 2,000 protesters, including many of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, were waiting for him.

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Some held signs saying things such as “President Hate, leave our state” and “Trump lies kill”.

Earlier, more than 74,000 people had signed an open letter from a group of Jewish leaders that told Mr Trump: “You are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism”.

Pittsburgh’s Democratic mayor Bill Peduto had earlier declined an invitation to join the Trumps, telling the Washington Post that the attention “should be on the victims”.

He also said: “We do not have enough public safety officials to provide enough protection at the funerals and to be able at the same time draw attention to a potential presidential visit.”

Mr Trump’s first stop was the synagogue where the shooting took place, where he was joined by Rabbi Jeffrey Myers and Israel’s ambassador Ron Dermer.

He lit candles for each victim inside before walking to the front of the building, where he and Mrs Trump laid white roses and stones at a memorial for the victims.

Then they headed to University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre to visit those still being treated . Six people were injured in the shooting and four of them remain in hospital.

The White House said the president was visiting to “express the support of the American people and to grieve with the Pittsburgh community”.

Paul Carberry, 55, lives near the synagogue and said Mr Trump should not have visited until after all of the funerals.

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He criticised the president’s divisive words, saying: “He didn’t pull the trigger, but his verbiage and actions don’t help.”

Barry Werber, 76, survived the massacre by hiding in a storage closet.

He said he hoped Mr Trump would not visit, blaming the president’s words for “bigots coming out of the woodwork”.

But others were more welcoming of the president.

David Dvir, 52, said politics should take a pause for grief, adding: “It’s our president, and we need to welcome him.”

© 2018 Sky UK