WELLINGTON – When the shooter from the Buffalo supermarket learned something from the massacre in New Zealand, which apparently inspired him, it must have been that the violence did not achieve any of the goals of the armed man, said on Tuesday one of those who survived.
Temel Atakakugu was shot nine times when a supporter of white supremacy opened fire during Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch three years ago, killing 51 worshipers and injuring dozens.
Atakakugu continues to recover from gunshot wounds to his mouth, left arm and both legs.
One of the stated goals of the Christchurch militants was to sow discord between racial and ethnic groups, eventually forcing non-white people to leave. But if anything, the opposite happened when Muslims and non-Muslims hugged each other in a common and enduring grief.
Atakakugu said the news of the shooting in Buffalo, New York, and its connection to the Christchurch massacre was appalling, which brought back memories.
“Violence does not solve the problem. They need to see it. People, including extremists, should see that violence does not fix anything, ”he said. “Peace fix. They also need to learn to talk to the people around them. ”
Atakakugu said he was grieving for the families of the Buffalo victims and wished governments around the world were doing more to stop extremism.
“They went shopping and didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. “They were just thinking of buying themselves food, maybe they’re feeding their little ones at home.”
An 18-year-old gunman accused of killing 10 black people in the Buffalo attack watched a live copy of a video taken by a shooter at a mosque in New Zealand, according to a document attributed to him.
In a 180-page diatribe, Peyton Hendron said he supported the same racist theory of “excellent replacement” that New Zealand militant Brenton Tarant had written about in a similar 74-page account.
And like Taranto, Hendron allegedly drew slogans on his weapons and used a camera mounted on his helmet to broadcast his attack live online.
Hendron, who surrendered at the supermarket, pleaded not guilty and was jailed for suicide.
After pleading guilty, Tarant, an Australian citizen, in 2020 became the first person in New Zealand to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, which was the harshest sentence.
The attack on Christchurch was broadcast live for 17 minutes and was viewed by hundreds of thousands of people on Facebook before it was eliminated. Taranto’s videos and flag were quickly banned in New Zealand, but can still be found in dark corners of the internet.
After Christchurch, social platforms learned to quickly remove videos of executions of extremists. It is believed that the shooter from Buffalo conducted a live broadcast of the attack on the gaming platform Twitch, owned by Amazon. Twitch said it deleted the video in less than two minutes.
The attacks on Christchurch also forced the New Zealand government within weeks to pass new laws banning the deadliest types of semi-automatic weapons. Police paid the owners for the transfer of weapons and destroyed more than 50,000 of them.
“We’ve seen gun control in New Zealand,” said Muti Barry, another survivor of the Christchurch attacks. “We saw some government action right after that. We are still waiting for what the US government will do. But, unfortunately, we have not seen anything like that. “
Barry, who hid in a bathroom at Lynn Mosque when a gunman killed people a few steps away, said he tries not to think too much about the day, but is reminded when he meets his friends, including one family who lost both father and son.
He said easy access to weapons in the United States, combined with constitutionally protected freedom of speech – and the apparent prevalence of hate speech – are a powerful mix that the U.S. government needs to take more seriously.
The attack in Christchurch also inspired other shootings of supporters of white supremacy, including the Walmart shooting in El Paso, Texas, which killed 23 people.
Atakakugu, a survivor who was shot nine times, this year repeated the route by which the gunman drove from Dunedin to Christchurch the morning after the attacks.
Despite long injuries, Atakakugu spent two weeks cycling and cycling along the entire 360-kilometer (224-mile) route. He wanted to bless the route, spread peace and change the journey that began with hatred.
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