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In Pittsburgh, the president and his protesters mourn shooting victims

Saturday’s massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue was the deadliest American attack on Jews in U.S. history. Across denominations, mourners gathered Tuesday to pay their respects to four of the people killed. But divisions remained over the president’s visit, with some residents protesting his arrival and others applauding it. Judy Woodruff gets the update from Yamiche Alcindor.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    This has been a somber day in Pittsburgh, a day to begin burying the dead from Saturday's synagogue massacre.

    Services were held for four of the 11 victims killed in the neighborhood called Squirrel Hill. It is a community in mourning, and it is divided over today's visit from President Trump.

    White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor begins our coverage.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    In Pittsburgh, people began lining up hours before the funerals began. Many came to honor Cecil and David Rosenthal, developmentally disabled brothers, who were among the 11 people killed on Saturday at Tree of Life Synagogue.

    Daniel Unikel attended Tree of Life and spoke out outside the Rosenthal funeral.

  • Daniel Unikel:

    I found a photo album with pictures from my bar mitzvah. That's when it hit me, because even though it was a happy occasion, I knew that in that chapel where I had my bar mitzvah, that that's maybe where people spent their final moments.

    And that's why I'm here today, because their lives were not in vain. And this is a time for people to put aside their differences, find common ground and to heal as a community.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Against that backdrop of grief came President Trump's trip. Like many, Unikel said he did not want Mr. Trump to come to Squirrel Hill.

  • Daniel Unikel:

    His ongoing rhetoric and just the nastiness and name-calling and putting somebody down, it's just like playground politics, if you will, and there needs to be decency and humanity and bringing people together. And he has not demonstrated that in word or in action.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    But President Trump said he wanted to pay his respects.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I'm also going to the hospital to see the officers and some of the people who were so badly hurt, so — and I really look forward to going.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The president landed in Pittsburgh late this afternoon, but a number of other officials declined to join him.

    Democratic Mayor Bill Peduto had requested Mr. Trump wait until all the funerals were over. Fellow Democrat and county executive Rich Fitzgerald agreed.

  • Rich Fitzgerald:

    I think, in light of how this has all occurred and some of the rhetoric that has occurred, I don't know that it would be a unifying visit. I think it might even be — add to the divisiveness of what's going on. And that probably isn't — again, the timing of — people are still grieving, very raw emotions.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Governor Tom Wolf, also a Democrat, skipped the presidential visit as well, as did House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

    Leaders of Mr. Trump's own party, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, cited scheduling conflicts, and didn't attend.

    Stosh Cotler is head of a progressive Jewish organization, Bend the Arc. The group wrote an open letter signed by thousands urging the president not to visit.

  • Stosh Cotler:

    If this president is sincere in wanting to respect the mourners of this tragedy, wanting to be sincerely respectful of the Jews who have been slaughtered, he will stay back and he will keep his distance, and he will actually consider his behavior and his actions and what he needs to do to change to actually create a country where people are living in unity and are living in peace and safety.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Others said the president was welcome.

    Elliot Dinkin is the son of a former director at Tree of Life.

  • Elliot Dinkin:

    It's not a time to be political and it's a time to stand back and respect the office of the president of the United States.

    Do we have to agree with everything he or she has ever said? Of course not. And angry at him and telling him it's not the right time, he should wait, I guarantee, if he waited another week, people would say, why did he wait so long?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Rabbi Jeffrey Myers from the Tree of Life congregation also told CNN — quote — "The president of the United States is always welcome. I am a citizen. He is my president. He is certainly welcome."

    The president himself kept a low profile during today's visit, and didn't speak publicly.

    Meanwhile, the attack in Pittsburgh prompted vigils and religious services in cities across the country last night, in Jewish and non-Jewish congregations alike.

    President Trump and first lady Melania Trump met with leaders inside that synagogue for about 20 minutes. They didn't enter the crime scene area, Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yamiche, you talked in your report about how divided the Pittsburgh community has been about the president's visit. And you said just behind you a few minutes ago there were protests.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Yes, just behind me a few minutes ago, hundreds of people gathered to protest President Trump coming to Pittsburgh. They say that the president hasn't displayed the empathy that other presidents displayed in the past, so they don't want him here.

    There are people, of course, who welcome the president, but these protesters in particular said that President Trump's rhetoric contributed to what they see as a culture of violence in the country.

    I should say that the protesters did chant or cheer for the first-responders as they walked by.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, speaking of that, the president, we know, also met with law enforcement while he was there. What do we know about the response he received?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, I spoke to several people, including the president of the police union here. That person told me that he welcomes the president coming. He said that the president has been very pro-law enforcement during his entire presidency, and that he's coming here because he feels as though he's concerned for the law enforcement here.

    So the police really welcome the president here. I should say that there was a large police presence as the president was around here, and it's not surprising that police officers would be happy to see President Trump come to Pittsburgh, given all that the president has done for police officers.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yamiche Alcindor, our White House correspondent, with the president today in Pittsburgh, thank you, Yamiche.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thanks, Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We will take a closer look at the rise of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in this country later in the program.

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