Community at a loss to explain horrific act of terror
GRAFTON has become the centre of global media attention after it was confirmed the man accused of Friday's terrorist act in New Zealand grew up in the city.
Media outlets from all over Australia and the world have descended on the city in an attempt to dig up information about 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant, who went to Grafton High School and worked as a personal trainer at Big River Squash and Fitness Centre until 2011, when he left to go travelling overseas.
They came in search of answers to explain this dispicable crime. But for the most part all they met was a community in shock, disbelief and at a loss to explain how a man who had what appeared to be a relatively normal upbringing in Grafton became the perpetrator of a hideous act of terror which killed 49 people.
"It's a terrible shame for Grafton to have to be the face of this evil," NSW Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis told The Daily Examiner.
"I feel for his family because they are also the innocent party in this and must also be in severe shock and disbelief.
"This was a crime against all of us; everyone who has family values, community values, and religious values, whether they be christian or muslim. We all share in the pain and our prayers and thoughts go to the Christchurch communty because they would be struggling to comes to terms with this.
"This was perpetrated by an individual who has serious religious biogtory issues and intolerance and it doesn't reflect who we are as a community whatsoever."
Acting Clarence Valley Mayor Jason Kingsley described the Grafton community as proudly diverse and inclusive of all cultures and religions.
"This individual and his actions does not represent our community or our values and beliefs," Cr Kingsley said.
"We're a proud, culturally diverse community and inclusive of all cultures and religions.
"The tragedy that has transpired isn't a reflection of Grafton or Australia, nor is it a reflection of New Zealand.
"This type of tragedy is a result of extremism. Sadly the internet and the evolution of social media is enabling hatred to spread quickly and to gain a worldwide audience.
"It is important that our reaction to this tragedy does not give these misguided extremists a larger platform. We must stand united when events like these occur.
"We must not let these people divide us and we must not give them a larger voice. Let us instead hear the voices of the victims and their families.
"Let's not harbour hatred for people of other cultures or religions."
Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan told The Daily Examiner he will attend a prayer vigil to mourn the victims at Grafton's Christ Church Cathedral on Monday night.
"This act is an act of evil, as all terrorist acts are," Mr Hogan said. "These acts are intended to divide us. These acts are intended for us to turn on each other, whether religion against religion or race against race.
"I am attending this vigil because I believe that goodness and love overcomes evil.
"We will also be praying for our brothers and sisters in Christchurch."
Labor candidate for Page, Patrick Deegan said it was important for the community to support each other during this difficult time.
"The Grafton and Northern NSW community is shocked that the alleged terrorist was a man who lived in our own community," Mr Deegan said.
"The evil actions of one individual however, do not, and will not, define us.
"Our community is caring, inclusive and kind.
"In this terrible moment, we must open our hearts. While we cannot ignore the horror, we can reach out and support each other.
"Tragedies such as this show why racist and extremist beliefs must be weeded out wherever they are found. And in their place we must plant the seeds of friendship, acceptance, and love."