U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, will travel Tuesday to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to pay their respect to the families of 11 members of a Jewish synagogue who were massacred last week in an anti-Semitic rampage. However, some Jewish leaders are demanding the president stay away until he denounces white nationalism.
The White House announced the trip Monday, saying the president and first lady will visit the historic city to “express the support of the American people and to grieve with the Pittsburgh community.”
The Trump’s visit comes as members of the Tree of Life synagogue hold the first funerals for the victims of last Saturday’s shooting, including 54-year-old David Rosenthal and his 59-year-old brother Cecil. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto urged President Trump to postpone his visit during an interview on CNN, because it would place a strain on police and other law enforcement officers who will provide security for the funerals.
Several leaders of the Pittsburgh chapter of Bend the Arc, a progressive Jewish organization, called on Trump to cancel his visit in an open letter issued Monday, saying he was not welcome until he denounced white nationalism. The letter was signed by tens of thousands of people nationwide.
But Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers says the president is “certainly welcome” to visit Pittsburgh.
Robert Bowers, the 46-year-old truck driver accused of carrying out the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue, made his first appearance before a federal judge Monday.
Authorities accuse Bowers of carrying out the rampage out of vitriolic hatred of Jews, posting anti-Semitic tirades online and screaming “All Jews must die” as he opened fire.
Bowers faces 29 federal charges, including some federal hate crimes. He could face the death penalty if he is convicted.
The Anti-Defamation League, which has tracked hatred and violence against Jews since the 1970s, said the massacre was the worst attack against the Jewish community in U.S. history.