Kiwi community, others in Portland shaken by New Zealand attacks

KPTV photo.

PORTLAND, OR - The shock and horror of what happened in New Zealand is rippling through our own community here in Portland.

“This is little buzzy bee, every child in New Zealand grows up with one of these,” Susanne Melton said. 

Melton has mementos of her homeland all over her living room. She’s lived in the states for decades now -- but says the shock of what happened in New Zealand hits harder than if it had happened here.

 “When it happens here we say there it goes again, another one, another tragedy, and thoughts and prayers, and nobody does anything and we just wait for the next one, but in New Zealand these things don’t happen,” Melton said.

Melton says guns, violence, and this kind of hatred are just so rare there. She tells says the mosque shootings in Christchurch are equivalent to how 9/11 shook the U.S.

“It’s not something we would have ever expected to happen in our little country,” Melton said. “It’s an attack on the Muslim community and that breaks my heart; it’s also an attack on New Zealand and New Zealand’s innocence.”

Other Portland communities are feeling the impact too.

“We grieve for those who lost their lives and for those who lost their loved ones,” Commissioner Nick Fish said at the Portlanders Stand with Refugees and Immigrants event.

It’s an annual celebration that this year took a somber tone, as several speakers and attendees spoke of unity in light of tragedy.

 “With love, peace and unity we will travel very far in this world. Hatred won’t win, will never win,” attendee and Founder of HAKI Community Organization, Saalim Saalim said.

Melton agrees that this massacre affects not only the community in Christchurch, that we all feel the pain, and now’s the time to come together.

She reached out to the Muslim Educational Trust.

She and other Kiwis in our area are meeting with them next week.

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