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Westmoreland mourns Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue shooting victims

November 20, 2018

As Westmoreland Diversity Coalition co-founder Carlotta Paige read aloud the names of the 11 people killed in Saturday’s mass shooting in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, Marie Howland of Latrobe held up a large placard bearing each name.

“I think it’s important for us to get together and show our solidarity with everyone,” Howland said Monday night as she stood at the back of a crowd of more than 400 strong on the steps of the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg. “I’m 67 years old, and I’ve never seen such hate and division.”

The vigil, hosted by Voice of Westmoreland, focused on finding healing in the wake of the shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue, allegedly by suspect Robert D. Bowers.

“It was an attack on all our houses of worship,” said Rabbi Sara Perman, another co-founder of the Westmoreland Diversity Coalition. “It was an attack on all of us. ... Education must conquer hate. Love will conquer hate.”

Perman repeated that final line three times, with many in the crowd joining her for the third recitation.

Laura Patterson of Greensburg held back tears as she explained why she came to the vigil.

“You just have to stand up to hate,” Patterson said. “You think it’s not real, and it couldn’t happen here, but then it does.”

Her husband, David, agreed.

“Some of this stuff seems so remote,” he said. “When the bullet comes this close to you, you realize just how serious it is.”

Paige called on the nation’s political leaders to take action.

“We need them to send a message with one voice: enough is enough,” she said.

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