Gun Violence and White Supremacy

Serena Mason, Reporter

Throughout 2019, in the U.S. alone there were 417 mass shootings. Worldwide, there were 1,491. Almost one-third of all mass shootings in the world were in America, yet gun reform is still not a priority. People tend to blame shootings on mental illness and isolation, and while those are often factors, there is an underlying theme. White supremacy and terrorism. There were 3 major shootings in 2019 driven by white nationalism and supremacy. 

One of the top news stories of 2019 was the Mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand. On March 15, a man entered Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand and open fire. He then fled to Linwood Islamic Centre and, again, open fire. In all, 49 people were injured and 51 people died. All of the people shot were Muslim. The shooter was later identified as Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year old Australian man. His 74-page manifesto referenced a white supremacist theory called “the great replacement”. This theory expresses the idea European elites have been replacing white Europeans with immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa. This was directly referenced in the manifesto of Patrick Crusius, the suspect accused of being behind the El Paso shootings. “I have experienced islamophobia in the past, but seeing how extreme it can be on a global scale truly scared me,” says Nabila Hersi, an 18-year-old activist from Portland. “We need to hold our leaders accountable, voting for and lobbying for effective policies, along with advocating against racism and islamophobia via social media or actually going to the streets to demand change. Issues like this take a long time to fix but doing nothing makes you just as complacent.”

Another top news story of 2019 was the El Paso Walmart shooting. On August 3, a man drove 11 hours to a Walmart in El Paso, Texas from his home in Allen, Texas. He shot and killed 22 people, 8 of which who were Hispanic, and injured 24 more. In his manifesto, he spoke about wanting to kill Mexicans and praised Trump’s plan to build a wall on the United States/Mexico border. “Knowing that person was targeting immigrants or Hispanic people was definitely scary, especially because me and my family are those people that were targeted was horrifying,” says Wendoly Zamora, a Hispanic student from Rex Putnam High School. The store closed until November 14th, and they later created a memorial called “The Grand Candela”. There was some kickback about the memorial because the victims’ names weren’t listed on the memorial. The suspect, Patrick Crusius, pleaded not guilty in his trial but was convicted for capital murder on September 12. 

These two shootings were just one example of racism and white supremacy. This is a result of many things including environmental racism, systemic racism, and taught racism.  Australia has a reputation for being an extremely racist country. Within hours of the Christchurch attacks, Senator Fraser Anning said what he believed to be the real cause of the attacks, “the immigration program that allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.” The white supremacist movement is global and growing. Racism is consistently being taught and learned all over the world. “I have to navigate spaces where people like me are not welcomed,” Hersi says. “Curriculum that is taught isn’t reflective of people who look like me and having to go into the real world that sometimes doesn’t create those inclusive, intersectional spaces is difficult.” Racism is reflected mostly in government officials such as Donald Trump. “When I see people who wear Trump shirts or hats I try to stay away because I’m not sure how they would treat me and I’m afraid of them saying something to me.” Zamora says. With gun violence on the rise, government officials in the U.S. still turn a blind eye. Although state laws have been passed about gun safety, not much has been done federally to keep U.S. citizens safe.