The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors observed a moment of silence Tuesday to recognize the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest attack against the Jewish community on United States soil.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said Saturday’s tragedy, along with the recent hate crime shooting of two black people at a Kentucky grocery store, had caused many people in Los Angeles to wonder, “Am I safe?”
Kuehl urged everyone to stand in solidarity with the Jewish community and others at risk, adapting the words of German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller as a warning.
“First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the African-Americans and I did not speak out because I was not African-American. Then they came for the LGBTQ community and I did not speak out because I was not trans. Then they came for the immigrants and I did not speak out because I was not an immigrant. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Supervisor Kathryn Barger called the deadly assault “an attack on us all” and referred to ramifications of political rhetoric.
“I recognize, as an elected official, my words do matter,” Barger said. “This act of hate is not going to take over my heart.”
An invocation was led by Rabbi Noah Farkas of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, who said the shooting has “tested our resolve.” He said members of his congregation had discussed whether to hire armed guards to protect their children, something they ultimately decided wasn’t necessary.
Farkas was invited by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who quoted from a letter that George Washington wrote in 1790 to the Hebrew Congregations of Newport, Rhode Island, assuring them of the U.S. government’s commitment to religious freedom with a verse from the Old Testament.
“Everyone shall sit in safety,” Ridley-Thomas said as he urged others to stand up against injustice and intolerance of every kind.
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