MIDWOOD – In a press conference yesterday to condemn the murder of 11 Jewish people in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, Oct. 27., Borough President Eric Adams called for off-duty officers to carry firearms when they go to their house of worships to pray.
“I’m not going to live the way it ought to be. I’m going to live the way it is,” Adams said. “There are sick minds who are preying on innocent people in their houses of worship… If you are a Jewish police officer and you are off duty, when you come to worship, you should come with your handgun. If you are a Christian police officer, when you are off duty… come with your handgun.”
He continued to speak about 97-year-old Rose Mallinger, a victim of the shooting who is being misrepresented as a Holocaust survivor.
“The 97-year-old Holocaust survivor did not have good people that carry firearms during the Holocaust. But there are good people that carry firearms in American now and they should not leave them at the front doors of their houses of worship. They should bring them inside with them to protect the people who are there.”
Adams said, “We cannot continue to stand by and watch innocent people lose their lives to sick people.”
He noted that he’d be meeting with members of the Shomrim Society to map out a plan of how off-duty officers can refocus their attention not only on prayer but on protection while attending houses of worship with their handguns.
“I will bring my handgun every time I enter a church or synagogue to worship,” he said.
Council Member Chaim Deutsch is a child of Holocaust survivors. He said he turned on his phone at the end of the Sabbath to see messages from people from all different faiths sending him their condolences.
“This is not a swastika that was scrolled with a chalk or with spray paint. This is not someone cursing at a Jew. This is murder,” he said. “Today we all stand united against hatred, against bias, against those that want to destroy anyone that represents a religion, a culture.”
Chaskel Bennett, a co-founder of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition, spoke powerful words about democracy.
“Until all Americans confront the horrors of anti-Semitism head-on, our democracy will not have achieved its promise,” Bennett said. “There are simply no words that can truly express our anguish and disgust at the perpetrator of this hateful crime.”
“We mourn together, but we are strong together.”
NYPD Lieutenant Adeel Rana, who is also the president of Muslim Officers Society, spoke on behalf of the Muslim community.
“We stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters. Just like when there’s an attack on our community, they stand shoulder to shoulder next to us,” he said. “Our hearts are broken just like everyone else’s. An attack on one person is an attack on all.”
Assemblywoman Yvette Clarke expressed her devastation and said: “There is no place in this nation for this type of divisive action to be taking place.”
“I thought about what happened at the synagogue in Pittsburgh and said, ‘My God, that could’ve been someone from my community’… it could’ve been any one of us at any point in time who feel free in America to worship,” Clarke said.
One community activist called for the perpetrator to get the death penalty, but not before applauding President Trump, who he said called the event a “hate crime.”
“I’m praying that Attorney Generals Jeff Sessions should put the death penalty for this case,” he said. “Our Torah tells us an eye for an eye, a foot for a foot. I’m saying a life for a life.”
Council Member Jumaane Williams called on everyone to unite.
“People are doing their best to instill fear and terror in communities just because they are who they are,” Council Member Jumaane Williams said. “We have to remember that people are afraid, whether its black people in churches, Jewish people in synagogues, the LGBTQ community, or immigrants. We have to unite ourselves against this hatred that is coming toward us.”