It Makes No Sense What Happened in Squirrel Hill
It makes no sense what happened in Squirrel Hill, or in Pittsburgh. It is wrong to blame a group of people, punish a police officer, and place the blame on a specific individual. Let’s look at some of the reasons why what happened in Squirrel Hill makes no sense. Here are some reasons why it makes no sense to blame a police officer. And why do so many people feel justified in blaming the police officer?
There’s no sense in what happened in Squirrel Hill
Squirrel Hill is known for its tolerance and diversity, and after the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue there are still lingering memories. Pittsburgh native Andre Perry grew up in Wilkinsburg and saw Squirrel Hill as a place where different cultures could mix together. Ultimately, the tragedy will have no sense unless we learn to move on from it.
The Jewish community in Squirrel Hill is particularly affected by the events. A white supremacist who killed 10 people, including six children, in Buffalo, has caused a ruckus in the Jewish community. The killer was motivated by a “Replacement Theory” – the belief that immigrants will replace the white Christian majority. But the Jewish community on Squirrel Hill is not afraid of antisemitism.
The names of the victims were released a day after the massacre and funerals soon followed. Hundreds of people attended the funerals, which were held in multiple synagogues and venues, though some people were turned away for lack of space. The funeral rituals evoked feelings of comfort and hope for healing, but the staggering reality of interring so many was overshadowed by the need to begin the process as quickly as possible. In Squirrel Hill, the community’s mourners halted traffic, a moving cortège slowly wounding its way around the streets.
There’s no sense in blaming a group of people
There are many facets of the Squirrel Hill tragedy that were true to the community. Some wanted the tragedy not to be politicized and yoked to a particular candidate or political agenda. Others wanted to change the world with political action. While the majority of the victims’ families were in the latter camp, there were still a handful who chose a political path.
The Jewish community has remained a distinctive mix. Its northern precincts are home to older, wealthy families. The southern part, however, is home to diverse populations, from college students to immigrants to the L.G.B.T. community. The neighborhood has a distinct history of Jewish presence, and despite the recent events, the community is still a welcoming and inclusive place for all.
There’s no sense in punishing a person
In 1987, the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh was attacked by two Muslim attackers. The men, identified as “Kevin” and “Gordon,” had been shooting signs in their car. They had already gotten a taste of cocaine and were high on both drugs when the attack took place. When the two came to a stop near the victim’s house, Tielsch opened fire on him. “He was a bearded guy with a black beard,” Tielsch testified.
There’s no sense in blaming a police officer
The victims of the recent shootings in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood were primarily young black men. But while the homicides were tragic, the community was also known for acceptance. Many residents of the neighborhood remember Friday nights at Mineo’s Pizza House. Andre Perry, the police officer who shot the two teens, was originally from Wilkinsburg and grew up there. He saw the neighborhood as a place where people of different cultures could mix.
Those who live in the neighborhood feel as if the tragedy has changed the community. While the neighborhood has not been the same since the shooting, it will survive. Residents of Squirrel Hill remember their childhood days walking down Murray Avenue to play video games. They remember meeting friends “up street” at the intersection of Forbes Avenue and Murray Avenue. The community’s sense of camaraderie remains strong.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.