On Saturday, 11 people were killed after suspect Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and opened fire on congregants. Bowers reportedly yelled out "all Jews must die" moments before discharging his firearm.
The attacker's anti-Semitic slogans reportedly continued even after he surrendered to Pittsburgh police. Six others, including four police officers, were injured during the incident.
Kovalik told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Tuesday that Pittsburgh residents refused to warmly accept Trump into the community of Squirrel Hill because he has repeatedly failed to denounce violence committed by white nationalists.
"There's two minds about him coming," Kovalik told host Brian Becker. "People view that he has both explicitly and implicitly encouraged white nationalists in their rhetoric and frankly has not denounced them when they have actually turned rhetoric into violence."
"A lot of people feel that his being here will only feed the flames," he stressed.
However, had Trump opted to denounce racism and bigotry from the start of his 2016 presidential election campaign, Pittsburgh residents wouldn't be acting out, fellow guest Eugene Puryear, host of Sputnik Radio's By Any Means Necessary, told Becker.
"The reality is that when anti-Semites, racists, neo-Nazis, Klan members and others see something in your policy that they like and they want to endorse, that's part of the problem," Puryear said. "Donald Trump wouldn't be in this position, and people wouldn't be telling him not to come… if he had been forthright from the very beginning about his opposition to racism, bigotry and the like."
"[Trump has] essentially tried to coexist with those people to promote either his own personal politics or at least his own personal political ambitions. People see that, and they don't want that kind of grandstanding, which is what he would be doing — using these funerals to grandstand as someone who is for unity," he added.
Bowers is currently charged with 29 felony counts, which include 11 counts of using of a firearm to commit murder and 11 counts of obstructing the exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death. He is being held without bond.
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