More than a dozen Jewish protesters were arrested outside of the Metropolitan Republican Club in New York City on Tuesday while sitting shiva for the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre and calling for an end to the GOP’s embrace of white nationalism.
Participants recited the Jewish kaddish of mourning, sang songs of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, laid stones for the dead and demanded that the leaders of the upper-crust Republican Party mainstay meet the protesters at their doorstep to denounce white nationalism in light of several recent attacks.
Using the protest’s designated hashtag, author David Klion explained the reasoning behind Tuesday’s action:
#WeAreHere as Jews to block the entrance to the NY Metropolitan Republican Club that hosted a white supremacist in the weeks before our community was attacked in Pittsburgh. We are here to sit shiva, to hold Republicans accountable, and to #EndWhiteNationalism
Another protester and mourner whose Twitter handle is a reference to Quentin Tarantino‘s anti-Nazi film Inglourious Basterds wrote:
We do not want to be here sitting shiva and reciting the mourner’s Kaddish. But #WeAreHere at the @metgopclub because Trump and the @GOP are directly responsible for white nationalist violence against our, and so many other communities. #EndWhiteNationalism pic.twitter.com/xvWpkADpms
— Bear Jew 🌹 (@joelfrominwood) October 30, 2018
The GOP officials there declined to engage with their critics and eventually the New York City Police Department (NYPD) was called in order to force the mourners and protesters away from their chosen site. Many of the Jewish advocates left after being told they faced charges of disorderly conduct, but fourteen mourners stayed put and were ultimately arrested.
The NYPD’s conduct before and after the arrests was immediately criticized.
Mourner and protester Sophie Ellman-Golan noted that “[a]bout 40 cops [were there] to protect white nationalists from Jews sitting shiva outside.” As the her companions were scooped up and cuffed by the NYPD, she sounded a defiant tone:
#WeAreHere, being arrested for mourning our people and all people harmed by white nationalism. #EndWhiteNationalism because it’s sure as hell trying to end us. But we will outlive them.
The #WeAreHere hashtag was also shared in the context of another Tuesday protest in Pittsburgh against President Donald Trump. Mourners and protesters there were opposed to Trump’s all-but surprise appearance at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Many leaders of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community and Pittsburgh’s mayor had requested that Trump not visit the city, but the 45th president declined those requests.
“As Jews, we know that we are only safe when we are in solidarity with everyone else who white nationalists want to destroy,” Emma Saltzberg, who participated in the New York protest told Gothamist. “We came to mourn our losses—our fellow Jews as well as the two people who were killed in Louisville last week for being black Americans—and to say: we are here, and we and white nationalism’s other targets will not be cowed.”
The Metropolitan Republican Club has recently come under heavy criticism for inviting Gavin McInnes—the founder of the Proud Boys, what some consider to be a white nationalist group—to give a speech in which he appeared to extoll the virtue of assassinating political opponents.
Many members of the Proud Boys were reportedly in attendance at McInnes’ speech and afterwards took to the well-lit streets of Manhattan’s Upper East Side to engage in various acts of what seemingly political violence. Several Proud Boys have since been brought up on various felony charges—including felony gang assault.
Law&Crime reached out to the NYPD for comment and clarification on this story.
[image via screengrab]
Editor’s note: this article has been amended post-publication to reflect additional developments.
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