The 11 bus used to take me home each night, and the N11 in the early hours of the morning when I’d missed the last tube home. It passes Trafalgar Square, down to Westminster, and circles Parliament Square as I used to brace myself when the bus driver made that sharp and quick turn. That very corner I used to pass, and some days would walk by is the spot where an assailant chose to attack Westminster on 21 March just before teatime (14:20) after attacking pedestrians on Westminster Bridge. I used to think it was a weak spot despite the barriers and police because it was so close to the pavement, but remember, the Palace of Westminster is not a fortress or prison, but a place that symbolizes democracy and where people campaign and fight for justice.
Westminster Bridge holds many memories over the years for me, and it’s always bustling with visitors taking selfies, and numerous stands selling souvenirs. My own recollections vary from running along the bridge to get to the South Bank for work and dodging tourists because I was late for work, being stuck on the bus and getting off towards County Hall, watching the New Year fireworks, and stopping off at the small Tesco just next to Westminster tube station for a drink and a bar of chocolate. It will never be the same again, but rather than be afraid, I feel Londoners will be more wary.
There is a lot of selfishness living in a city like London, and when incidents like this arise, people do come together. We forget who was on the remain side or leave side of Brexit for a moment. This was not an attack on the UK, but on humanity. People will look for blame; is religion to blame, the EU borders, or a lack of security? The recent attacks in Germany and France where vehicles have been used as a means of attack and distraction, meant that it was just a matter of time before other countries were going to be targeted in the same way. However, that does not mean people must stop living, but we as humans must adjust and take more precautions.
The threat level in the UK has been at severe for a length of time and such an incident was not wholly unexpected. I have seen many incidents myself; there was a lockdown in Gatwick airport once due to a suspected bomb in an abandoned car, I was in Harrods when the store was evacuated and I had to run out of the store, and I used to work in Heathrow where there were numerous incidents I dealt with. Today I watch from afar as communities stand together because that is the only way humanity and society can defeat those who threaten the liberties and freedoms we have fought for and enjoy in life. The call is for those who have information to come forward and prevent these attacks, and for humans to look out for one another. While the assailant ran people down on Westminster Bridge, many ran away, while others returned to help the wounded. We should always think, what if the roles were reversed…
#WeAreNotAfraid: the threat failed as Parliament continues, and people have gone back to work. If anything it has united humanity, as people forget petty matters and differences and, the incident is a stark reminder that we should not live in fear, but must try to work together to make the world a safer place for us all to live in. More information has come to light recently as the police tentatively reveal what is known; as suspected the car used was hired, and the assailant was a British born man, so banning those from certain countries could not have prevented this incident. Westminster has been and still is an area with high security, but will always remain a place where the voice of the people will be heard, and the freedoms of the citizens will be protected.
If anything it strengthens the resolve for nations to support each other in quoshing terrorism. While people are entitled to their beliefs, they are not entitled to harm others in pursuit of their aims. That is what terrorism does, and is not based on religion or respect for humanity.