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Synagogue Shooting

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Synagogue Shooting

Tyler Kieft, Staff Writer

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On Saturday, October 27, 2018, Robert Gregory Bowers entered the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and opened fire upon a peaceful Jewish community, as they celebrated their faith and took part in a baby-naming ceremony. In his attack, eleven people were killed, and six people were wounded (four of which were officers), until Robert was shot and surrendered to the authorities. According to law enforcement, Bowers made anti-Semitic comments during the shooting, one of which was “Death to all Jews.”

Robert was found to have been carrying and using an AR-15-style assault weapon and three handguns after his arrest from what F.B.I.’s Robert Jones calls the “most horrific crime scene” he had seen in twenty-two years. Representative Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania’s 14th District also stated, on the topic of gun ownership, that Robert Bowers had twenty-one guns registered to his name when investigated.

More investigation from law enforcement had uncovered a greater racist past, of which was found on the website “Gab”, a social media platform that the suspect was found to be using before the shooting occurred. The account belonging to Bowers was full of racist comments that targeted minorities and migrants from all areas of the world.

In response to the Central American migrant caravan headed towards the U.S., as well as the European refugee crisis, Bowers reposted claims of Jewish responsibility for the caravan as well as calling the groups “huge mobs of illiterate brutal murderers”. Eleven days before the attack, Bowers reposted another, calling on white people to “stand up now and stop all immigration and multiculturalism.”

Not long before Bowers entered the synagogue to kill, he posted one last time, stating “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” Just minutes after this post was made, authorities began receiving calls of a shooting at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, the shooter being Robert Bowers.

As a result of these ties to Gab, PayPal, Stripe, and GoDaddy banned Gab from their platforms, leaving Gab to scramble for a source to run off. It didn’t take long for Gab to go back online however, as Seattle-based company, Epik accepted the site’s domain registration.

Christopher Cantwell, a white nationalist with a large following on Gab, made a statement after the website was put back online. “Hey Jews! We’re back on Gab now. Thanks for the press. Pretty soon the average citizen is going to figure out that we wouldn’t be having these problems in your absence, and we genuinely appreciate your help in stepping up the timeline on that.”

In response to the extreme racism and violence seen on that Saturday, Pennsylvania’s governor, Tom Wolf, stated, “We simply cannot accept this violence as a normal part of American life. These senseless acts of violence are not who we are as Pennsylvanians and are not who we are as Americans.”

The U.S. President, Donald Trump also gave his input on the tragic incident and his thoughts on how to fix events like these from ever occurring again. “It’s a terrible, terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country and frankly all over the world, and something has to be done. The results are very devastating,” Trump said while speaking to the Future Farmers of America, Saturday afternoon. “If there were an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop them. Maybe there would have been nobody killed except for him, frankly.”

Although a way to solve the issue of shootings and racism, whether it would actually work is another question. There are a lot of factors to be taken into consideration, factors much greater than just defending people with more weapons. If things are to be done to change the violent and racist ways of our country, the U.S. needs to step up and actually act rather than suggesting solutions and never going through with anything. Simply talking about the issue will never change anything. Something must be done if change is desired.

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