Trump visited the synagogue on Tuesday and left.
On Wednesday he tweeted, “The Office of the President was shown great respect on a very sad & solemn day. Small protest was not seen by us, staged far away. The Fake News stories were just the opposite-Disgraceful!”
Nearly 70,000 people as of Tuesday signed the petition from the Pittsburgh affiliate of Bend the Arc to demand Trump stay away from Pittsburgh.
Mayor Bill Peduto, a Democrat, had asked Trump to
reschedule his visit to respect the grieving families and funerals.
Steven Halle, a nephew of one of the victims, Daniel Stein, rejected a meeting with Trump because of his comments blaming the synagogue for not having an armed guard to stop the gunman “immediately.”
“Everybody feels that they were inappropriate,” Halle said of Trump’s comments. “A church, a synagogue, should not be a fortress. It should be an open, welcoming place to feel safe,” he continued.
But Trump didn’t care and came for his photo ops, and to promote Republican candidate Keith Rothfus via Twitter:
Yesterday in Pittsburgh I was really impressed with Congressman Keith Rothfus (far more so than any other local political figure). His sincere level of compassion, grief and sorrow for the events that took place was, in its own way, very inspiring. Vote for Keith!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2018
Trump told Fox News on Monday night:
“I’m also going to the hospital to see the officers and some of the people that were so badly hurt,” Trump said. “I really look forward to going. I would have done it even sooner, but I didn’t want to disrupt any more than they already had disruption.”
But his visit was drowned out by thousands who took to the streets of the city to protest, marching toward the synagogue, singing songs, and holding signs that said, “”Refugees Are Not Invaders,” “Pittsburgh Builds Bridges Not Walls” and “Pittsburgh Welcomes All Who Don’t Hate.”
“It’s an unbelievable image that we’re looking at. These are peaceful protesters, walking along, grieving about the tragic death of 11 of their neighbors in a synagogue on Saturday, and protesting the presence of Donald Trump, the president, in their community today.” pic.twitter.com/AuZbQxIq0o
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) October 30, 2018
Tuesday evening, Tracy Baton, director of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Women’s March on Washington, stood on the steps of the Sixth Presbyterian Church and spoke to thousands:
Those who “would insert themselves on a national stage, into a city in mourning, before the dead are buried, is unacceptable,” she said. “Those that would limit our neighbors’ vote, that would foment hate against the Jewish community, Muslim community, people of color, LGBTQ people, as well as wage a war on women’s bodies, are not welcome here!”
Jewish group IfNotNow organized a protest and sat shiva. Organizer and Pittsburgh resident Diana Clarke told the crowd, “We are here to mourn the 11 Jewish people who were killed on Saturday. We are here to mourn the two black people who were
shot by a white nationalist in Louisville, Kentucky, last week.”
“I think that Donald Trump represents white nationalism and white supremacy, and that has no place in the mourning lives lost to exactly those systems that his administration upholds,” Clarke told HuffPost.
“We have people who can’t sit shiva because you’re blocking our streets!” the Rev. Susan Rothenberg, a Presbyterian minister screamed at Trump when he arrived. “These people can’t grieve! You’re causing them pain!”
She continued, “You only care about you! You are not welcome on my street! These are my neighbors that were killed! You are not welcome in Squirrel Hill! Do you understand that”