AFT leaders offer condolences to Pittsburgh synagogue attack victims, community

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AFT leaders in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Washington offered their condolences in the wake of the mass shooting of 13 congregants at a Pittsburgh synagogue during Sabbath services this morning.
Statements from AFT President Randi Weingarten, AFT Pennsylvania President Ted Kirsch, and Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers President Nina Esposito-Visgitis.

Weingarten said:
“This time we mourn a synagogue shooting, not a school shooting. It is no less painful or tragic. Terrorism comes in many forms. The domestic extremism that has turned Americans against each other is a reflection of the undeniable hatred plaguing our communities. This time it’s a murderer radicalized by a hatred of Jews; earlier this week it was a mail bomber. Our hearts break for the community of the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, and everyone affected by this anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant massacre.

“Most synagogues do have security, but, just like in our schools, pretending that a good guy with a gun can singularly stop people armed with assault rifles and weapons of war is magical thinking. Law enforcement, who acted heroically could not stop this murderer. The fact that mass shootings persist in our democracy is a public health crisis that we must tackle immediately: With commonsense gun safety laws, with access to mental health services, and with a renewed commitment to teaching tolerance.

"Personally as a Jew, when confronted by anti-Semitism, I lean into my practice of Judaism. As a teacher, I lean into the fight to educate for a more tolerant and inclusive America. As an activist, I lean into the fight against hate and the fight for a better and safer America. Let’s us all work for a better, fairer and more decent America in the memory of those who were lost today."

Kirsch said:
“Our synagogues, our schools, and the public spaces at the center of our neighborhoods should be safe havens, but today in America, people now feel in danger where they learn, and where they worship. When an armed citizen seeks to murder Jews and others who support refugees, it represents a heinous assault on some of our most basic freedoms. Today that evil made its way to Pennsylvania, and we condemn it at every turn.”

Esposito-Visgitis said:
“The educators and school support staff of the city of Pittsburgh are devastated that a shooter would target members of our community based on their religion and their progressive values. We are committed to teaching Pittsburgh’s students inclusivity and tolerance, and we will not let this act of terror cause is to abandon that commitment.”