Violence in Europe: Knife Attack in London

After a spate of unnerving public attacks in Europe, citizens across the continent are on edge. Germany has experienced three separate incidents – including a mass stabbing, a mass shooting, and a failed bomb attack – in recent weeks that have resulted in a heavier security presence. For a culture that has prided itself on civil order and peace since the trials of World War II, armed patrols are an alien and traumatizing sight.

In France, a man claiming allegiance to ISIS drove a truck into crowds gathered in Nice to celebrate Bastille Day, killing 84. And, on July 26, a parish priest in Normandy was murdered by two men also claiming allegiance to ISIS before the assailants were shot dead by authorities.

These attacks are threats to the social good. First, they stoke fear and insecurity. As daily life becomes less secure through persistent attacks on the public’s trust, citizens simply cannot enjoy public activities without concern for their own wellbeing. This fear greatly detracts from the quality of life.


Additionally, the attacks create windows of confusion, where facts blur, accusations fly, and the worst impulses in politics emerge in full view. Last night’s knife attack in London was horrifying, yet serves a solid example of sober management from the authorities.

A 19 year-old Norwegian national of Somali origin stabbed six people, killing one – a US citizen in her 60s. Police on the scene successfully tasered the assailant – who had emigrated to England in 2002 – and took him into police custody.

The incident had the hallmarks of recent terrorist attacks, but authorities took a measured approach and concluded that the attack was spontaneous. Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley of the Metropolitan Police told reporters:

Whilst the investigation is not yet complete, all of the work that we have done so far increasingly points to this tragic incident as having been triggered by mental health issues, At this time we believe this was a spontaneous attack and the victims were selected at random.

“So far we have found no evidence of radicalization or anything that would suggest the man in our custody was motivated by terrorism,” Mr. Rowley concluded.

The press and the authorities should be lauded for refraining from hasty allegations. But while the violence was unattached to a terror motive, the randomness is reminiscent of the all-too-common gun violence endemic to the United States. Random acts of violence still create insecurity and fear. Indeed, yesterday London’s Metropolitan Police deployed 600 specially trained arm units to patrol London. While not connected to any specific intelligence, the move is likely a response to the public’s concern and to recent incidents in Europe, and is a huge step for a country famous for its unarmed police officers.

These acts of violence are a reminder of the importance of a strong and responsive security apparatus. And while they may test the public’s resolve, strong and pro-social responses will ultimately pay off more than sowing fear and distrust.

Terror in Munich: Live Updates on Multiple Shootings

(Karlsplatz, Munich)

Update: 9:10PM ET
Germany authorities have confirmed that there was one assailant in today’s shootings, an 18 year old man with dual Iranian and German citizenship.

As of now, authorities are uncertain of the shooter’s motives, though there have been reports that the individual shouted anti-foreigner epithets. In total the individual killed 9 people and injured at least 21 before taking his own life.

That’s it for today’s rolling coverage. The Tap will have more as details emerge in Munich over the coming days.
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Update: 5:45PM ET

A witness has told a local media outlet that one gunman shouted anti-foreigner slurs before opening fire.

Authorities have updated the number of fatalities to 9, which may include one of the attack’s perpetrators who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Additionally, authorities are requesting that individuals with relevant photos and videos of the attack should send them to the police instead of posting them online,
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Update: 4:34PM ET
Authorities have revised the number of fatalities to 8.

Appearing at the United Nations in New York City, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson provided the following statement:

Everybody is shocked and saddened by what has taken place. Our thoughts are very much with the victims, their families, with the people of Munich, and the people of Germany more widely.

If, as seems very likely, this is another terrorist incident, then I think it proves once again that we have a global phenomenon now and a global sickness that we have to tackle both at source – in the areas where the cancer is being incubated in the middle east – and also of course around the world.

Authorities are yet to identify the motive or background of the perpetrator(s) of today’s shooting.

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Update: 3:24PM ET
Local media outlets are now reporting that at least one of the shooters has died from self-inflicted gun shot wounds.

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Update: 3:09PM ET
US President Barack Obama has issued a pledge of support for Germany:

We don’t yet know exactly what’s happening there, but obviously our hearts go out to those who may have been injured. We are going to pledge all the support they may need.

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Update: 2:32PM ET
Authorities are requesting that social media users refrain from posting video/photo of police operations so as to not help the perpetrator(s). The US consulate in Munich has issued an emergency message to US citizens advising them to seek shelter. The city of Munich has declared a state of emergency and has urged citizens to remain indoors.

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Update: 2:18PM ET
Unconfirmed witness reports indicate three gunmen active in the area near the Olympia shopping centre in Munich. Authorities now confirm at least 6 dead.

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Reports are coming in from Munich, Germany, where an undisclosed number of gunmen have opened fire at multiple locations.

Authorities have confirmed three dead so far. Current unconfirmed reports indicate the locations of the shootings to be Karlsplatz, Stachus, and Odeonplatz.

A police spokesperson has said issued the following statement:

We believe there was more than one perpetrator. The first reports came at 6 pm, the shooting apparently began at a McDonald’s in the shopping centre. There are still people in the shopping centre. We are trying to get the people out and take care of them.

Authorities have informed Munich residents to avoid public areas.

The Tap will issue updates as further details emerge.

Terror in Brussels: How to Help

(Brussels, Belgium)

Today’s harrowing attacks in Brussels, Belgium are yet another reminder of how far we have to go for the cause of peace. While details emerge, the cold hard reality of the loss of life is certain. Instead of responding with gloom in the face of terror, however, we can respond with humanity.

Considering giving to the Red Cross of Belgium as it triages the disaster on the ground, supporting victims and providing vital care. Also consider donating to the Foundation for Peace – an organization that supports victims of terror.

If you are in Brussels, there are a number of places to donate blood. Residents have been deploying the hashtags #OpenHouse and #IkWilHelpen to offer shelter for those stuck outside during the government-mandated lockdown.

The terror in Brussels will not be the last tragedy of its kind, but the response it provokes can move us down a path to eradicating such wanton hate and violence.

How to Help Paris Attack Victims

As Paris reels from yesterday’s deadly attacks that claimed the lives of at least 127 people, there are a number of ways that you can help. Below you’ll find a number of organizations that are either based in Paris or provide emergency and/or basic needs assistance in France.

Secours populaire française
This relief organization fights poverty and strives for inclusion within France. Individuals can also contribute their time and skills to the organization.

Médecins Sans Frontières
Also known as Doctors without Borders, this Paris-based organization provides emergency medical care to vulnerable populations around the globe. While there has been no announcement that the organization will work on the ground in Paris, this NGO is highly vetted and renowned, symbolizing  international goodwill.

The French Red Cross
This organization was active while the tragic events in Paris were still unfolding, providing resources and personnel to the hundreds of people impacted by the attacks.

The Secours Catholique-Caritas France
This Catholic organization provides assistance to needy families in France, as well as emergency relief services during disastrous events such as last night’s attacks.

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