‘There are no words’: Community members reflect upon Christchurch shootings


Photo credit: "NZ Flag and Flowers" by James Dann is licensed under CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

A New Zealand flag surrounded by flowers at the tribute wall set up at the Botanic Gardens. Archer Student Support Coordinator and Junior Class Dean Jennifer Dohr was “disgusted” by the March 15 mosque shooting in New Zealand.

“Shock,” “horror” and “disgust” were just a few words used by Archer Student Support Coordinator and Junior Class Dean Jennifer Dohr to describe her reaction to the March 15 mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand. The accused shooter, 28-year-old Australia-native Brenton Tarrant, killed and injured over 50 people during two consecutive shootings at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Center.

Due to this recent mass killing, Archer students, faculty and staff have reflected on the growing and “unsurprising,” said Archer junior Sivan Ellman regarding the issue of global hate crimes. Ellman says she feels the attack on the Muslims in the mosque and Islamic center by Tarrant was directed at “all minorities.”

“This isn’t just an attack on Muslims, but an attack on all who seek refuge in prayer,” Ellman said. “The man speaking was also talking about how Jews are at risk here. I never thought about how me being a practicing Jew in Los Angeles, or me being a practicing Jew anywhere, could put me at risk.”

Tarrant has been charged with 50 counts of murder and over 39 counts of attempted murder on April 1, in addition to solo murder charge prosecutors made in March. Tarrant could be faced with life in prison without parole if found guilty.

“I feel like we are desensitized to these constant hate crimes,” Ellman said. “When you see the notification on your phone, there’s no gut feeling that you’re even devastated.”  

The process of purchasing a gun in New Zealand consists of procedures such as passing a background check, providing a character reference, being interviewed by government officials, passing a home security inspections and taking a gun safety course. However, as a result of the shooting, New Zealand’s cabinet has agreed to reconsider and possibly tighten gun control laws, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced during a press meeting on March 18.

“Even though it happened in New Zealand, it still affects me here in the U.S because there have been, and still are today, acts of gun violence,” sophomore Mackenzie Turner said. “I just hope that we can all learn from these terrible acts and strengthen gun laws everywhere.”

On March 22, New Zealand held a national day of mourning for the victims of what is now referred to as the “Christchurch shooting.” A two-minute silence was held in Christchurch while Auckland mourners held up a “Destroy Islamaphobia” banner as candlelit services and vigils were held in various parks around the city.

“I think change always begins with a discussion, and I think every member of the community needs to be involved and invested in a discussion of the rise in hate crimes that we are seeing in this country and the rise of white supremacy that we are not just seeing nationally but also internationally,” Dohr said. “Cruelty and suffering cannot stand, and within the Archer community we must always fight for the humanitarian rights of the individual.”