Suspect in New Zealand mosque massacres appears in court, flashes 'white power' hand gesture
The self-described racist who allegedly carried out massacres in two mosques flashed a white power sign during his first court appearance.
Photos from the brief proceeding showed Brenton Harrison Tarrant, flanked by police, using his shackled hand to make an “OK” symbol that has been appropriated by white supremacists and is also used by right-wing internet trolls.
The 28-year-old Australian personal trainer is charged with one count of murder in connection with the back-to-back mass shootings that left 49 people death and dozens more wounded—but authorities said more charges will be coming. His court-appointed attorney did not apply for bail, and he will be jailed until his next appearance on April 5.
The public was not allowed into the courtroom, which was packed with media. Tarrant wordlessly swayed in the dock, looking back and forth from the gallery to the bench.
Tarrant did not seek a suppression order that would have prevented media from using his name in New Zealand—perhaps not a surprise given his apparent lust for notoriety as evidenced by an online manifesto and a sickening live-stream of the attack.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the symbol Tarrant used was adopted by white nationalists and neo-Nazis “to signal their presence to the like-minded, as well as to identify potentially sympathetic recruits among young trolling artists flashing it.”
Tarrant did not have a criminal record before he turned Friday prayers at two mosques into a bloodbath and “was not known to authorities in connection with far-right violence,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said during a press conference Saturday morning.
Scroll down for video
He began purchasing guns in December 2018, officials said, and allegedly used five legally purchased guns: two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns and a lever-action firearm.
Tarrant was apprehended in a car in southern Christchurch, according to witnesses. His car had been rigged with explosives, which police said they dismantled.
The prime minister confirmed two other people were in custody though local authorities are still trying to determine if they were actually involved. One was identified as 18-year-old Daniel John Burrough of Christchurch, who was charged with trying to incite racial hatred. No other details were provided and it was unclear if he even knew Tarrant.
A fourth person arrested late Friday night turned out to be just “a member of the public” who was in possession of a firearm and was trying to help police, authorities said. That person was released.
“While the national grapples with a form of anger and grief we have not experienced before, we are seeking answers,” Ardern said on Saturday morning. “We are all grieving together.”
Read more from The Daily Beast
My view: It's baffling how people are now saying they are seeking answers as to why an evil monster like this scumbag slaughtered innocent people. Well the answer is quite clear, just listen to the hate campaign of extreme far right parties/ working politicians, until there's a law in place that prevents far right politicians from spewing hateful comments, it'll not stop. It is sad that extreme far right politicians use vulnerable people who are seeking refuge as their political football for their hate campaigns.