Jewish Protesters Explain Why They Disrupted Trump's Pittsburgh Speech, Blast President's 'Ugly Rhetoric and Policies of Fear'

A group of Jewish protesters disrupted a speech by Donald Trump in Pittsburgh days before the one year anniversary of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting to condemn the president's "ugly rhetoric," which they say emboldens white nationalists.

Members of the Bend the Arc: Jewish Action group were arrested as they staged a protest at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, where Trump was delivering a talk at the annual Shale Insight conference on Wednesday, October 23.

A video posted online of the demonstration shows the group unfurling banners while shouting "Trump endangers Jews!"

The activists explained that they staged a protest as they believe Trump's rhetoric and failure to fully denounce white supremacy and the far-right was one of the catalysts for the massacre that left 11 people dead on October 27, 2018.

"That day a year ago, the world of Jews in America turned upside down. We hugged each other close. We poured into the streets for candlelight vigils," the group said in a statement.

"And what did this President do? He held a campaign rally that same night. Our lives were not worth even a pause for him."

Bend the Arc added: "The gunman who entered the synagogue a year ago was driven by fear and lies to kill Jewish people and stop new immigrants—but he didn't invent these lies. He heard them from the mouth of this President and the white nationalists this President and his allies have emboldened and enabled."

The group said that following the Pittsburgh shooting, Trump then "doubled down on his ugly rhetoric and policies of fear," which resulted in further deaths, including the shooting at synagogue in Poway, California, and at a Walmart in El Paso.

"This President has spent a year emboldening white nationalists with rants about invasions, loyalty, and savagery," the group added.

"He has spent a year claiming that immigrants and people of color are a threat.He has spent a year putting children in cages and tearing families apart. And he has spent a year accusing Black and Brown people of antisemitism, when he is the one sowing fear amongst all of us for his own personal gain."

Trump did notice the protest at the back of the center while delivering his speech on Wednesday.

At first he urged the audience "don't pay attention" to the disruption while continuing with his speech before adding "yeah don't hurt them" as the protesters were being removed.

"Don't hurt them, don't hurt them please," Trump said. "They don't know they're dealing with very tough people in this room."

Trump added: "Alright, go home to mom. Explain to mom that you tried to take on very powerful people, and many of them physically as well as mentally—that's not a good thing to do, not in this room, be careful. Make sure you don't hurt them, please."

Last year, Bend the Arc wrote an open letter to Trump urging him not to visit Pittsburgh to pay his respects to the victims of the Tree of Life shooting until he denounced white nationalism and stopped "targeting and endangering" all minorities.

"For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement. You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday's violence is the direct culmination of your influence," the letter added.

In a tweet, Bend the Arc said all 14 people who were arrested for "protesting Trump's enabling of white nationalist violence" have since been released.

The White House did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

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A protester is removed while President Donald Trump speaks during the 9th Shale Insight Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center October 23, 2019, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty
Jewish Protesters Explain Why They Disrupted Trump's Pittsburgh Speech, Blast President's 'Ugly Rhetoric and Policies of Fear' | U.S.