Pittsburgh’s Black community came out to support survivors of this weekend’s synagogue shooting as new reports revealed that the shooter hated African-Americans as well as Jews.
The Pittsburgh Courier interviewed several Black community members who attended a public vigil near the synagogue located in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, hours after a gunman killed 11 people.
“I came to show love and support to my brothers and sisters of Squirrel Hill because a tragedy for Squirrel Hill is a tragedy for the whole city. My heart bleeds because I know first hand what it’s like for a loved one to leave home and not come back,” said the Rev. Glenn Grayson of the Hill District’s Wesley Center AME Zion Church. “We have to work together as one. We have to stop the gun violence and killing.”
Grayson, whose son was tragically killed in 2010, was the recipient in 2014 of a national “champions of change” award from President Barack Obama for helping to keep his neighborhood safe from gun violence.
Robert Bowers carried out Saturday’s mass killing at the Tree of Life Synagogue in what was likely the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. The 46-year-old was eventually taken into custody after suffering multiple gunshot wounds.
He was an active user of Gab, a social media outlet that’s popular with white nationalists. His last post before the shooting said, “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
Bowers also spewed hate at Black people on Gab, according to the Washington Post. About 20 of his posts included the N-word, and six of them targeted white women who were in relationships with Black men. He also uploaded images of nooses and hangings.
“Nothing is going to change overnight. But you can’t let that keep us from moving and keep us from uniting and realizing that our liberation is tied together. So we have to lean on each other and comfort each other in these times,” Summer Lee, a Black resident of Pittsburgh, said in the video at the vigil for the victims.