Prince William visit to honor Christchurch attack victims

William will represent his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II, the official head of state of the former British colony. (File/AFP)
Updated 28 March 2019

Prince William visit to honor Christchurch attack victims

  • A national remembrance service will be held in honor of the victims of the mosque attacks
  • Ardern said the focus of Friday’s service and next month’s royal visit was supporting the Muslim community

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: Prince William will visit victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings next month, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Thursday on the eve of a national remembrance service being held in the grieving South Island city.
Ardern said the focus of Friday’s service and next month’s royal visit was supporting the Muslim community, which was devastated when a self-avowed white supremacist killed 50 people at two mosques in a shooting rampage.
Ardern will address the service, which has the theme “We Are One” and will be broadcast on national television.
She said representatives from 59 nations, including Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, were attending the event, which is expected to draw tens of thousands of people.
The emphasis will be on the Islamic community, with an invocation ringing out across Hagley Park, speeches by Muslim leaders and a performance by Cat Stevens, the British singer who shunned stardom in the 1970s and became a Muslim, taking the name Yusuf Islam.
“This is an event that has affected New Zealand deeply, but it was our Muslim New Zealanders who were targeted in this act of hatred,” Ardern told reporters in Christchurch.
“Rightly so, that will be reflected in the remembrance service.”
She said William, the Duke of Cambridge, was “very keen to show his support for the city and the Muslim community as it emerges from this attack.”

William will represent his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II, the official head of state of the former British colony.
“The visit will be another sign that this nation will always stand with those affected by the terror attacks, and the people of Christchurch,” Ardern said.
The royals have previously expressed sympathy for the attacks.
“The Duke will meet with those affected by the attack and will pay tribute to the extraordinary compassion and solidarity that the people of New Zealand have displayed in recent weeks,” Kensington Palace said in a statement.
Ardern said William already had a strong connection with Christchurch and the surrounding Canterbury region after visiting in the wake of a devastating 2011 earthquake that killed 185 people.
William made a two-day visit to Christchurch following the quake to attend a memorial service. He and his wife Kate also visited the city in 2014.
After the mosque attacks, William, Kate, Prince Harry and wife Meghan sent a message that ended “Kia kaha,” meaning “be strong” in Maori.
“No person should ever have to fear attending a sacred place of worship,” they said.
“This senseless attack is an affront to the people of Christchurch and New Zealand, and the broader Muslim community. It is a horrifying assault on a way of life that embodies decency, community, and friendship.”
Ardern has led efforts to support New Zealand’s small, tightly-knit Muslim community in the wake of the attack.
As well as symbolic gestures such as donning a headscarf while comforting survivors, she has also moved to tighten gun laws and called for social media giants to do more to combat hate speech.
She said New Zealanders were “on a journey” to uphold their core values and her government wanted to take a leadership role in ensuring that happened.
“We have never been free of racism, we have never been free of violent ideology,” she said
“But our overriding values are ones of fairness, compassion and diversity.”


US officials block police ‘extreme tactics’ as protests enter 12th day

Updated 40 min 15 sec ago

US officials block police ‘extreme tactics’ as protests enter 12th day

  • A federal judge in Denver ordered city police to stop using tear gas, plastic bullets and other ‘less-than-lethal’ devices
  • Two police officers in Buffalo, New York, were suspended without pay on Thursday

WASHINGTON: Officials across the United States are moving to rein in police following accusations of excessive force being used against demonstrators, with protests over the killing of a black man in custody set to enter their 12th day on Saturday.
George Floyd, 46, died on May 25 in Minneapolis after a police officer pinned him to the ground with a knee to the neck for nearly nine minutes.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has ordered that all flags at state facilities be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Saturday in honor of Floyd, who was originally from the state’s Fayetteville city.
On Friday, marches and gatherings took place in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Miami, New York and Denver, among other places, while protesters massed again, in the rain, in front of the White House. The night-time protests were largely peaceful but tension remains high even as authorities in several places take steps to reform police procedures.
A federal judge in Denver ordered city police to stop using tear gas, plastic bullets and other “less-than-lethal” devices such as flash grenades, with his ruling citing examples of protesters and journalists being injured by police.
“These are peaceful demonstrators, journalists, and medics who have been targeted with extreme tactics meant to suppress riots, not to suppress demonstrations,” US District Judge R. Brooke Jackson wrote in the ruling.
In Minneapolis, Democratic city leaders voted to end the use of knee restraints and choke-holds, where pressure is applied to the neck, while California Governor Gavin Newsom said he would end state police training of carotid restraints similar to the technique used on Floyd.
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state should lead the way in passing “Say Their Name” reforms, including making police disciplinary records publicly available as well as banning choke-holds.
“Mr Floyd’s murder was the breaking point,” Cuomo, a Democrat, said in a statement. “People are saying enough is enough, we must change.”
Black Lives Matter activists have called for cities to defund police departments. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a Democrat who in April proposed increasing law enforcement funding, this week reversed course and said he would seek some $150 million in cuts to the Los Angeles Police Department.

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In another sign of how attitudes have changed, National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league had made mistakes in not listening to players, in a video denouncing racism in the United States.
The NFL has been locked in a debate with players over kneeling protests during the playing of the national anthem.
Two police officers in Buffalo, New York, were suspended without pay on Thursday and placed under investigation after a video showed them shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground.
But the decision was met with pushback from the officers’ colleagues, with all 57 members of the police tactical unit quitting in protest at their treatment.
The demonstrations have erupted as the public and businesses struggle to recover from sweeping lockdowns imposed to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Disease experts have said the protests could spark new outbreaks.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, who has sparred with US President Donald Trump over his sometimes heavy-handed response to the rallies and marches in the nation’s capital, had the slogan “Black Lives Matter” painted in massive yellow letters on a street leading to the White House.
After nightfall, Bowser had light projections spelling out the words beamed onto nearby buildings, which she said on Twitter was a “night light” aimed at Trump.