A symbol worn by the New Zealand mass shooter was also prominent during the Neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia where a woman was killed after being hit by a car that was attempting to mow down a crowd of counter-protesters.
The symbol is called a Sonnenrad, and its primary use has been to signify white supremacy and the desire to see a white ethno-state. The Sonnenrad was commonly used in Nazi Germany. In some cases, white supremacists will put the Nazi swastika symbol in the middle of the Sonnenrad.
Activist Emily Gorcenski found a photo of a Charlottesville marcher — who was eventually charged with targeting an Amtrak train in a terrorist attack in 2018 — carrying a shield with the Sonnenrad symbol. As Grit Post previously reported, that person eventually pleaded guilty to one count of Violence Against a Transportation System and one count of Possession of an Unregistered Short-Barrel Rifle.
In the photo below, the domestic terrorist carrying the Sonnenrad is seen standing next to the Charlottesville terrorist who drove a car into a crowd, killing counter-protester Heather Heyer and injuring 20 others. Another Twitter user posted a photo of the New Zealand shooter’s vest, which also bore the Sonnenrad symbol.
According to the Anti-Defamation League — which aims to educate Americans on the signs of anti-Semitic behavior — says that while the Sonnenrad itself isn’t a sign of white supremacy, it’s best to look at the context of the situation at hand to determine the use of the logo. Commonly, the symbol is used with a red background to denote the support of Neo-Nazism and white supremacy.
Prior to the shooting at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, the terrorist posted a manifesto online in which he expressed hatred toward Muslims and other immigrants for having higher fertility rates than whites. One of the first pages of the manifesto showed a wheel with various images showing his values. One spoke of that wheel showed two white hands shaking, and called for a white ethno-state.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Grit Post’s editorial policy is to not publish the names or likenesses of mass shooters and domestic terrorists in order to deny them the notoriety they’re seeking from the media. Images of terrorists in this article have been obscured in accordance with this policy. We encourage all media outlets to do the same.)
Brandon Howard is a Grit Post contributor, auto worker, and former public radio reporter based out of Lexington, Kentucky. Follow him on Twitter @mrpowerhoward.