Mayor Bill de Blasio joined religious leaders and other officials at a special service at a Midtown synagogue Sunday to mark the first anniversary of the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh.
The mayor spoke in front of hundreds of people at the Central Synagogue in Manhattan, where candles were lit for each of the 11 victims killed in the deadliest act of anti-Semitism in American history.
De Blasio said the slaughtering of the elderly Pittsburgh synagogue victims was a particularly dire warning.
“The painful reality that some of those massacred were children of Holocaust survivors reminds us that we have been given all the history we need … to know what it looks like when hate starts to grow, to know how it becomes institutionalized and normalized,” he said.
“And it’s happening right this moment.”
De Blasio was met with repeated applause at the service, which marked the “Day of Action Against Anti-Semitism,” as he said the priority must be avoiding “another memorial for other poor souls who were massacred.
“The first is to use all of our power, not just to condemn, but to take from anyone — I don’t care if they’re an elected official or business figure or civic leader — anyone who would use their platform to normalize hate,” he said.
“We need to take that platform back from them using all of the means of a democracy. Anyone who practices violence must feel the consequences,” he said.
He also praised the “finest police force in the world,” saying, “In this city, the NYPD does not ignore a single act of hate.”
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was even more direct, blaming 2016, the year President Trump was elected.
“I’m going to go out on a limb and say it: Since 2016, there’s been a liberation of this evil to come forth and manifest itself,” she said, referring to anti-Semitism “lurking in the shadows” as an “evil under a rock.”
“It’s starting to happen here, and that hurts me as a New Yorker,” she said, noting people “assaulted or attacked” in Brooklyn and upstate synagogues defaced with vile anti-semitic vandalism.
“We do not want a single individual to walk in fear down a street anywhere in the state of New York. And it has to stop.”
State Attorney General Tish James praised New Yorkers for always standing together in times of crisis.
There is “a circle of humanity which is binding and unyielding, which represents that kind of love that will not be shaken by the hatred of others,” she said. “Time and time again, in the aftermath of hateful acts, that is exactly what New York City and New York state has done.
“We have stood together because there is nothing we are prouder of than our diversity, and we will never tolerate any act of hate against any of us. And although we cannot change our history, we can play a role in writing our future and ensuring that it is one of acceptance and inclusion and compassion.”
Federal prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty for Robert Bowers, 46, who faces 63 federal charges in connection with the Pittsburgh massacre.
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