PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Thousands of people gathered in Squirrel Hill Tuesday for two protests in opposition to President Donald Trump’s visit to the City of Pittsburgh, following the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue.READ MORE: Three People Killed In Small Plane Crash In Fayetteville, W. Va.
Tens of thousands of people signed an online petition against the visit after it was first announced over the weekend, in the hours after the mass shooting that claimed 11 lives.
The White House said the purpose of the visit was to mourn the victims, but many political and religious leaders were divided over the visit.
The first protest got underway at the corner of Darlington Road and Murray Avenue. Protesters began gathering at 3 p.m. for the “No Antisemitism, No White Supremacy, No Trump” rally.
It was organized by IfNotNow Pittsburgh, which worked with 13 other organizations to put together the event.
In a press release, IfNotNow Pittsburgh member Ren Finkel said: “The inspiration for this attack is the antisemitic rhetoric of Trump and other Republican leaders. As young American Jews taking responsibility for the future of our community, we refuse to mince words: the blood spilled is a result of white nationalism enabled by Trump.”
The protesters said they have three messages to get across.
- Remembering The Victims
- First Funeral Services Held For Victims Of Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting
- Local, National Officials Decline To Appear With Trump During Pittsburgh Visit
- Thousands Gather In Squirrel Hill For Protest Against President Trump’s Visit
The first is to educate the public about the Jewish grieving process. They invited the public to join them in Shiva, which is the Jewish ritual of mourning and community healing, and asked anyone who wanted to participate to wear black, which is traditional for the ritual.
Second, they want to send the message that Antisemitism is unacceptable; and third, they say they want to make clear that President Trump is not welcome in Pittsburgh.READ MORE: Police Evacuate Part Of New Castle Neighborhood After Resident Discovers Grenade While Magnetic Fishing In Shenango River
The second rally got underway at 4 p.m. at the corner of Beechwood Boulevard and Forbes Avenue. It is hosted by Bend the Arc: Pittsburgh, Women’s March on Washington and other organizations.
The “Pittsburgh Loves All Our Neighbors” rally marched up Beechwood Boulevard into the Business District, up Shady Avenue, and made it’s way towards the Tree of Life Synagogue. At one point, Shady Avenue was so crowded, there was no room to move between Northumberland all the way to Forbes.
The two rallies eventually merged together for one big rally.
Police halted the protesters path about a half a block before reaching the Tree of Life Synagogue, while the president was there.
While they could not see President Trump, the protesters did hear the sirens from his motorcade. While it left the area, many of them turned their backs and knelt down as a sign of opposition to him and his policies.
While thousands protested the president’s visit, a few of President Trump’s supporters gathered at the synagogue to see the first family.
“I welcome him very much. We’re honored to have him and the first lady. His daughter is a convert, his son-in-law is a son of survivors,” said one Trump supporter.
KDKA’s Ross Guidotti Reports:
The protest then made its way onto Northumberland Street, where the demonstrators circled back to Forbes Avenue and ended up back at Forbes and Murray Avenue, in front of the Sixth Presbyterian Church.MORE NEWS: Search For Kodiak, The National Aviary's Missing Steller's Sea Eagle Enters Third Day
Another, smaller group, began a sit-in protest a short distance from the church. More protests were planned throughout the evening.