Survivors of the New Zealand shootings say the violence has achieved nothing

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand – If the Buffalo supermarket shooter had learned anything from the New Zealand genocide that clearly inspired him, it should have been that the violence did not achieve any of the gunman’s goals, a survivor said Tuesday.

Three years ago, during a Friday prayer service at two mosques in Christchurch, a white supremacist shot Temel Atakokugu nine times, killing 51 worshipers and seriously injuring dozens more.

Atakokugu continues to recover from gunshot wounds to his face, left arm and both legs.

One of the motives of the Christchurch gunmen was to sow discord between ethnic and racial groups, eventually forcing black people to leave. But if anything, Muslims and non-Muslims embraced each other because of a shared and lasting grief.

Atakokugu said the news of the shooting in Buffalo, New York, and its links to the Christchurch massacre were frightening, triggering flashbacks for him.

“Violence does not solve the problem. They should see that. People, including extremists, should see that violence does not solve anything, “he said. “Peace will fix it. They need to learn to talk to the people around them. “

Atakokugu said he was heartbroken for the families of the buffalo victims and expressed hope that governments around the world would do more to stop extremism.

“They went shopping and they had no idea what was going to happen,” he said. “They were just thinking of buying their food. Maybe they were feeding their little ones at home.”

The 18-year-old gunman saw a copy of a live stream video of a New Zealand mosque gunman accused of killing 10 black people in a Buffalo attack, according to a document responsible for it.

In a 180-page diatribe, Payton Gendron says he subscribed to the same racist “great substitution” theory that New Zealand gunman Brenton Tarant wrote on a similar 74-page screed.

And like Tarant, Zendron allegedly painted slogans on his gun and used a helmet-mounted camera to stream his attack live on the Internet.

Zendron, who surrendered inside the supermarket, pleaded not guilty and was sent to prison under a suicide watch.

After finally pleading guilty, Tarant, an Australian citizen, became the first person in New Zealand in 2020 to be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, the harshest sentence available.

The Christchurch attack was streamed live for 17 minutes and was viewed by thousands of people on Facebook before it aired. Video and Trent screeds were quickly banned in New Zealand but can still be found in the dark corners of the Internet.

Since Christchurch, social platforms have learned to move videos of extremists quickly. The Buffalo shooter allegedly streamed the attack live on Amazon-owned gaming platform Twitch. Twitch said it removed the video in less than two minutes.

The Christchurch attack also prompted the New Zealand government to pass new legislation banning deadly types of semi-automatic weapons within weeks. Police paid the owners to hand over their guns and destroyed more than 50,000 of them.

“We’ve seen gun control stuff in New Zealand,” said Muti Barry, another survivor of the Christchurch attack. “We have seen some action taken by the government since then. We are still waiting to see what the US government does. But unfortunately, we didn’t see anything like that. “

Barry, who was hiding in a bathroom at the Linwood Mosque when gunmen killed people just a few feet away, said he did not think much of the day but was reminded when he met his friends, including There was a family that lost both father and one. Son.

He said that in the United States, constitutionally protected freedom of speech, easy access to guns – and the seemingly widespread spread of hate speech – is a powerful combination that the US government needs to take more seriously.

The Christchurch attack also inspired other white supremacists, including a Walmart shooting in El Paso, Texas that killed 23 people.

Atakokugu, a survivor who was shot nine times, has regained the route taken by gunmen from Dunedin to Christchurch on the morning of the attack this year.

Despite his chronic injuries, Atakokugu walked the entire 360-kilometer (224-mile) route for two weeks and rode the bike. He wanted to bless the route, spread peace and change a journey that started with hatred.

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