President Trump plans to travel to Pittsburgh Tuesday in the wake of the deadly shooting at a synagogue over the weekend, but Jewish leaders say he’s not welcome.
The White House announced Monday that the president and his wife will make the trip to express their support and grieve with the Pennsylvania community.
“The president cherishes the American Jewish community for everything it stands for and contributes to our country,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a press briefing. She went on to say that many of Trump’s family members are Jewish, including his daughter and son-in-law, the descendant of Holocaust survivors.
Eleven people were killed and several others were injured Saturday morning when a gunman opened fire minutes after the Shabbat service began at the Tree of Life synagogue. The shooting is believed to be the deadliest act of violence against Jews in US history, the Associated Press reports.
Jewish leaders in Pittsburgh, however, said Trump isn’t welcome unless he stops targeting minorities and denounces white nationalism.
In an open letter published by the Pittsburgh steering committee for Bend The Arc, a national group representing progressive Jewish voices, leaders blamed Trump and his rhetoric for the massacre.
“Yesterday’s massacre is not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country,” the letter reads. “President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you commit yourself to compassionate, democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all of us.”
Authorities identified the shooter as Robert Gregory Bowers, who later told police “I just want to kill Jews,” according to a federal affidavit.
Bowers, a 46-year-old truck driver, appeared in court Monday where a judge ordered he be held without bail. Federal prosecutors said they plan to seek the death penalty in the case, according to the AP.