Mayor's Statement on the Tragic Shooting at Tree of Life Congregation

 Candles in the dark. Photo:  Leandro Almeida  from  Burst

Candles in the dark. Photo: Leandro Almeida from Burst

Today we woke up to news of a horrible mass shooting, this time at a synagogue in Pittsburg, PA, during a service. I am saddened and outraged over this heinous attack which occurred on the holy day of Shabbat, a day of rest, reflection and prayer for the Jewish people. This hate crime strikes at the heart of the Jewish community. I want to thank the Berkeley Police Department for immediately increasing patrols around synagogues in Berkeley.

Today we mourn for the tragic loss of lives, and my heart goes out to the family and friends of all the victims.

We also thank our courageous first responders who bravely risked their lives, some of whom were injured and are in critical condition. We honor the law enforcement officers whose professionalism and commitment helped prevent more loss of lives.

This is the third mass shooting at a place of worship in the last few years. Our places of worship are sanctuaries, places for our community to come together and pray. Everyone regardless of their religion or background should feel safe to visit their church or synagogue. Sadly, that sense of safety has been shattered. The divisive and toxic environment in this country has empowered people to commit acts of violence. The easy access to guns also makes it easier for crimes like these to occur.

We implore Congress to immediately enact tougher gun laws. Contrary to Trump’s suggestion that we arm ourselves to avoid becoming victims is not the solution, on the contrary, it further fans the flames of violence.

We condemn this act of bigotry and hatred. Let’s stand together as one community, united, at this difficult time and let everyone know that hate has no place in our community and in our country.

We ask that Jewish residents of Berkeley and all Berkeleyans join us tonight for a Havdalah, a vigil against Hate, at 9:15 PM after the end of Shabbat, at Congregation Beth El, 1301 Oxford Street, Berkeley. We will lift up our voices in song and solidarity and support each other.

 

Jesse Arreguin