Friday, March 15, 2019

Christchurch can't catch a break

Christchurch, New Zealand, scene of a massive earthquake back in 2011 (I blogged about it), is now the scene of an anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant shooting spree that took place—probably deliberately—during prayer time.

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — Multiple people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of people attending Friday prayers, as New Zealand police warned people to stay indoors as they tried to determine if more than one gunman was involved.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described it as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” and said the events in the city of Christchurch represented “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence.”

One person was taken into custody but it was unclear if there were other people involved, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said. He said anybody who was thinking of going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand on Friday should stay put.

Authorities have not said who they have in custody. But a man who claimed responsibility for the shootings left a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto in which he explained who he was and his reasoning for his actions. He said he considered it a terrorist attack.

Ardern at her news conference alluded to anti-immigrant sentiment as the possible motive, saying that while many people affected by the shootings may be migrants or refugees “they have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has [perpetrated] this violence against us is not.”

My understanding is that the above article can be updated: the attacks were perpetrated by three men and a woman. I think most or all of the attackers have been arrested. I joked that, had this happened in the States, the attackers would probably have been shot full of holes. A coworker says he read that one attacker shouted something like "Subscribe to PewDiePie!"—a reference to the world's biggest YouTuber with nearly 90 million subscribers. PewDiePie, a Swede who is primarily a gamer, has been in trouble before for purportedly flirting with the alt-right crowd and spouting trollish opinions designed to make the PC left extremely uncomfortable. While I doubt that PewDiePie (rhymes with "cutie pie"; the guy's real name is Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg) actually wishes death to Muslims, he hasn't exactly helped his own case in the bigotry department: it wasn't that long ago that he got in trouble for cheerfully shouting "You nigger!" at a fellow video gamer.

Anyway, I expect the death toll (currently 27) to rise over the next 36 hours, and I guess that New Zealand will now have to have its own internal conversation about guns. The country will probably conclude that stricter gun laws will be necessary, which utterly misses the point: the guns used in this massacre were doubtless shipped into the country illegally. More laws aren't the answer. I'd say the closest thing to a solution would be to get better about enforcing the laws you already have on the books.

More later, maybe. My condolences to En-Zed as a whole.

UPDATE: a pic of one shooter's face here. The shooters live-streamed their own massacre, using at least one GoPro camera. This same article puts the death toll closer to 30. It also says the 74-page manifesto was actually 94 pages. During this initial period of chaos, it's going to take a while for people to get their story straight.

UPDATE 2: also from the above-linked article:
What we know so far:
- Two gunmen opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, at 1.40pm local time on Friday
- Unconfirmed body count could be up to 30, including children - according to local reports.
- One of the gunmen live-streamed the deadly attack on Facebook using a GoPro in footage too distressing to show
- It was posted on a Facebook page belonging to Brenton Tarrant
- It is understood the killer is an Australian-Brit who published a chilling 94-page manifesto before the rampage
- Cops have arrested three men and a woman - with one found wearing a suicide vest
- The Bangladesh cricket team were at one of the mosques and escaped the shooting
- Cops defused improvised explosives found on nearby booby-trapped cars
- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called it "one of New Zealand's darkest days"
- New Zealand cops have warned "let's not presume the danger has gone"

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