The day after at London Bridge: ‘We are still here, singing’

Choristers, shoppers and traders not put off area targeted for second time

The mood at London Bridge on Saturday was one of almost eerie calm.

The bridge itself remained cordoned off, with vehicles that had been caught up in the fatal terror attack still parked behind the police cordons. Usually one of the main arteries of London transport, the bridge was silent, populated only by police officers and forensic teams in blue suits taking evidence.

Tony Fitzgerald, 50, walked past the TV cameras stationed at the base of the bridge carrying a bunch of flowers.

Theres only one bunch of flowers other than my bunch, he said, visibly upset. Where is everyone? I thought it would be packed with flowers, but you cant see anyone. Ive come all the way from Essex to be here, I couldnt sleep last night because it makes me sick.

Imams left the first bunch of flowers at the site early this morning, and later joined Fitzgerald at the bridge where they shared an embrace.

When we arrived this morning, there were no flowers, nothing, Mansoor Clarke said. We thought itd be appropriate that for an act done in the name of Islam, we were the first to lay flowers.

Sabah Ahmedi and Mansoor Clarke, imams of the Ahmadiyya muslim community, pray for the victims. Photograph: Simon Dawson/Reuters

His fellow imam, Sabah Ahmedi, said: The word Islam actually means peace, so when you have a Muslim terrorist, its an oxymoron because it translates to peaceful terrorist.

We wanted to stand in solidarity with Londoners, and really the whole of humanity, and weve found a community here in our shared grief, he added.

Fitzgerald said: My family are Irish, and Irish people shouldnt be blamed for the IRA, so why should Muslims be blamed for this?

Further down the road, Borough Market, the target of a terrorist attack just two years ago, was bustling. There was a noticeably large police presence, and while regulars said it was a little quieter than usual for a Saturday morning, few seemed to have been put off coming as a result of Fridays attack.

Cristina Romero-Caballero, 22, said: We love coming here, so we didnt think [the attack] was going to make a difference; we also thought it was going to be more secure than any other day.

Joshua Elliott, also 22, said: If you stop coming to places, you just get scared. For me, it makes no difference whether they try [to scare us]. The whole point is to carry on and show that it makes no difference to us whatsoever.

I think the best way to go about it is not to ignore that it happened people died and we have to respect that but try and go about your normal life as much as possible.

Nigel Kenyon, 79, said his choir was still planning to sing in the cathedral this afternoon, refusing to cancel out of fear. In spite of it all, we are still here, singing. So what? Look at everyone whos here.

Dozens of traders who had been locked down during the attack were open for business again.

It was a bit weird this morning, the weather was very cold and people a bit sad and thinking about yesterday. But after that, the sun is there, and people are there as well. Yesterday was a bad situation but we have to keep going, said Andrew Peltier, 25, a trader who had to abandon his stallon Friday.

Ffiona Cairns, a 20-year-old trader who was also working during the attack, said she felt safe on Saturday because of the high police presence.

It was only when I got home that I really realised what had happened. We were in the shop and people just started rushing in and telling us to get down. Weve been trained, so we were sort of prepared, but how prepared can you be for something like that?

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/nov/30/the-day-after-at-london-bridge-we-are-still-here-singing

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