We wanted to issue a special statement in light of Friday’s mass murder in Christchurch, New Zealand. We stand with the Christchurch Muslim community, our Kiwi friends, and the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian (MASA) population both within the United States and worldwide.
This tragedy occurred on a Friday afternoon, when the mosques were filled with people gathered for prayer – just as the Pittsburgh killer attacked Jewish observers at their synagogue, the Oak Creek killer attacked Sikhs at their gurdwara, and the Charleston killer attacked worshippers at an African American church. The type of violence exhibited in Christchurch – and the repulsive racist and Islamophobic hate that motivates it – is unacceptable anywhere at any time in any country. No one should fear for their safety when attending their house of worship, gathering at community events, or exercising their democratic rights of free speech and protest.
While this attack happened in New Zealand, mass violence perpetrated by a gunman is a tragically common American story and we must commit ourselves to address its root causes. Data from September 12, 2001 through 2016 shows that far-right groups were responsible for 73% of all violent extremist incidents in the United States. In fact, white nationalists were responsible for the majority of all extremist-related murders in 2017.
In moments like this one, we are challenged to respond to these atrocities not only by affirming our values, but by taking action to support the victims and their communities, and by building solidarity and taking action at all levels to call out and confront these forms of insidious hatred and the acts of inhumanity they produce.
At Proteus Fund, such action goes to the core of our work. Only three years ago, we organized a rapid response fund after a gunman perpetrated a mass shooting at the LGBTQ Pulse nightclub on Latin Night in Orlando, Florida. And for ten years now, Proteus Fund has been specifically and proactively committed to supporting the MASA community and resisting the tidal wave of Islamophobia in the United States through the RISE Together Fund (RTF), (formerly the Security & Rights Collaborative).
For more ideas on what you can do, please see the suggestions below from Solidarityis.org. If you would like to make a personal contribution to support the victims of the New Zealand attack and their families, we encourage you to do so here. Please contact the RISE Together Fund team if you have any questions about what philanthropy can do in this moment, or want to learn more about RTF’s initiatives to bolster the critical work of MASA groups to defend and uphold the rights of their communities, leading to inclusion in a just, multi-racial democracy.
Paul Di Donato
President and CEO, Proteus Fund
Program Director, RISE Together Fund