Hundreds join protest of Trump’s visit to Pittsburgh

Hundreds join protest of Trump’s visit to Pittsburgh
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Around 200 people demonstrated against President TrumpDonald John TrumpAvenatti ‘still considering’ presidential run despite domestic violence arrest Mulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: report Kasich: Wouldn’t want presidential run to ‘diminish my voice’ MORE's visit to Pittsburgh on Tuesday afternoon.

The protesters, organized by Jewish group IfNotNow, staged a gathering that was part-protest and part-shiva, a Jewish mourning ritual, BuzzFeed News reported.

The demonstration came as Trump traveled to meet with victims and families of those affected by the mass shooting Saturday at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill.

The shooting, which left 11 dead and several others injured, is believed to be the deadliest attack against Jewish people in U.S. history, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

"Today, President Trump is in Pittsburgh," IfNotNow tweeted. "We do not need him. We stand with each other and mourn for our dead, and show up to protect each other." 

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Trump's Tuesday visit to Pittsburgh has been met with some pushback, including from city public officials who say they are focused on the first funerals for victims of the shooting.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (D) declined to appear with Trump during his visit, saying “all attention [Tuesday] should be on the victims.”

The protesters, donned in black clothes, marched as they held signs reading "anti-Semitism upholds white supremacy," "your words have consequences" and more. At one point, they paused to sing the Mourner's Kaddish, a Jewish prayer commemorating the dead.

As of Tuesday evening, more than 77,000 people had signed an open letter from progressive Jewish leaders saying Trump was not welcome in Pittsburgh until he denounces white nationalism.

Eleven members of the Pittsburgh affiliate of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice penned the letter to Trump following Saturday's shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue.

The suspect in the shooting, Robert Bowers, made his first court appearance Monday. He faces 29 federal counts, including hate crime charges, after reportedly making anti-Semitic comments before he allegedly opened fire.

“Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted,” the group wrote in its letter. “You have also deliberately undermined the safety of people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. Yesterday’s massacre is not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country.” 

The president and the White House have condemned the attack as anti-Semitic, but critics have said the condolences are not enough. Democrats and progressive activists have blamed the president's aggressive rhetoric, pointing to the moment when he said there were "fine people" among the neo-Nazis who organized a deadly protest in Charlottesville, Va. last year.

Before the massacre, the alleged shooter posted on social media about the so-called caravan of Central American migrants slowly making their way to the U.S. border. Trump has continually referred to the caravan as an "invasion."

Republicans and others have said the only person at fault is the gunman.

"I don't really foist blame upon any person," Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said on CNN. "Hate does not know religion, race, creed, political party."
 
One demonstrator on Tuesday told Buzzfeed News that she attended to "honor the 11 people who were lost to hatred, and to send a message to Trump, who has fanned the flames of hate and is partially responsible for this tragedy, and is only making things worse by coming.”