Last week, on Saturday (Oct 26th), an unfortunate tragedy took place at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood when a gunman opened fire, killing eleven people and wounding six others.
The event made it the 294th mass shooting this year, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive and the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history.
According to documents made public Sunday, the suspect, Robert Bowers, told an officer: “They’re committing genocide to my people. I just want to kill Jews,” before surrendering and being taken into custody.
The Justice Department said it would file hate crime charges against suspect Robert Bowers and said the charges could lead to the death penalty. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement Saturday,
“Today 11 innocent people were suddenly and viciously murdered during religious services. These alleged crimes are reprehensible and utterly repugnant to the values of this nation.”
As you can imagine the nation as a whole was shaken. The massacre highlights the rise of hate crimes across the country and even more, shows the divisiveness state of our country.
I beseech the grieving Jews in Pittsburgh to deny Donald his photo op tomorrow. At my synagogue in #NYC we will sit shiva tomorrow, to find some comfort in community while we remember how vulnerable we are in America now. Don’t let this monster politicize the slaughter in shul.
— Barbara Malmet (@B52Malmet) October 29, 2018
To even imagine, a 97-year-old woman SHOT TO DEATH IN A SYNAGOGUE. In America. I can't even fathom the evil of all this.
My Jewish grandmother lived past 100 and I think of her as I think of the victims and their families.
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) October 29, 2018
RETWEET if you are with the Jews in Pittsburgh and every Jewish person who wants to feel safe in Synagogue, putting prayer & community ahead of running and ducking.
— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) October 29, 2018
Everyone, it seems, but those who attended the President’s midwest rally in Indiana Saturday, the same time the shooting occurred.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Trump played Pharrell’s song, “Happy” hours after the synagogue shooting in what has to be one of the most tone-deaf moments in Presidential history.
Yesterday, however, rapper and producer of the Grammy-award winning song, Pharrell Williams, ordered a cease and desist for playing the song. His attorney Howard King wrote in a letter,
“On the day of the mass murder of 11 human beings at the hands of a deranged ‘nationalist,’ you played his song ‘Happy’ to a crowd at a political event in Indiana. There was nothing ‘happy’ about the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday and no permission was granted for your use of this song for this purpose,” states the letter.
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King continues to say Williams has not and will not grant Trump permission to publicly perform or otherwise disseminate his music, and claims the use of “Happy” without his consent constitutes both copyright and trademark infringement.
This is not the first time Trump has been ordered to stop playing an artists music from the artist. Steven Tyler has repeatedly ordered Trump’s use of Aerosmith’s music at his events.
Video of the song being played has not been released so the exact context has not been defined, nonetheless, hours after such a horrific event, on a stage so formal, it would make sense to keep jubilation at a minimum.
But then again, that’s on par for the President of the United States.