More than 20,000 people have now signed an open letter declaring that President Trump is not welcome in the city of Pittsburgh until he denounces white nationalism and reverses his policies targeting minorities and immigrants.
Organized by the progressive Jewish group Bend the Arc, the letter follows Saturday’s deadly shooting that killed 11 worshippers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue.
The alleged gunman, Robert Bowers, 46, made anti-Semitic remarks during the attack and has threatened and targeted Jews on his social media accounts in the past. An account on Gab — a social media site favored by white supremacists and far-right extremists — showed he had pushed several right-wing conspiracy theories, including one that claimed Jews were responsible for funding a caravan of migrants headed to the U.S.-Mexico border from Central America.
“For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement,” the letter states. “You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your influence.”
Interspersed through the letter’s text are four bold statements declaring what changes Trump must make in his leadership before he’d be welcome in Pittsburgh. When the letter was read at a White House vigil Sunday, participants read these bolded lines together:
- President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism.
- President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you stop targeting and endangering all minorities.
- President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you cease your assault on immigrants and refugees.
- President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you commit yourself to compassionate, democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all of us.
The letter also states that Trump has “deliberately undermined the safety of people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities,” noting that Saturday’s shooting was “not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country.”
Plenty of examples substantiate this claim, including Trump’s claim that there were “very fine people” on both sides of the Charlottesville white supremacist rally; his multiple attempts at implementing a Muslim ban; his never-ending calls to “build a wall” and his demonizing lies about the migrant caravan; his mocking of a reporter with a disability, and his barrage of anti-LGBTQ policies, including a plan to completely erase transgender people from recognition under federal law.
Trump has indicated his intentions to visit Pittsburgh in the wake of the shooting, but Josh Friedman of Bend the Arc’s Pittsburgh chapter expects such a visit would “only be met with derision.”
Lynnette Lederman, former president of Tree of Life, echoed this sentiment in an interview with CNN. “We have people who stand by us, who believe in values — not just Jewish values,” she said. “And those are not the values of this president, and I do not welcome him to Pittsburgh.”
Lynnette Lederman, former President of Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue, says of Trump, "I do not welcome this President to my city … He is the purveyor of hate speech. The hypocritical words that come from him tell me nothing." pic.twitter.com/vEtgZ9D87m
— New Day (@NewDay) October 29, 2018
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway complained Monday that people shouldn’t be pointing their fingers at Trump or anybody else. “The blame game,” she said, is disrespectful to the victims.
Trump, of course, had already retaliated in this game Sunday evening by blaming “The Fake News” and its “Fake & Dishonest reporting” for “causing problems far greater than they understand.”