London Attack: How Commoners Defied Odds to Help Each Other

London bridge act saw residents playing the role of good samaritan to cope with emergency situation.

3 min read
Two women stand in front of a floral tribute in the London Bridge area of London, 5 June 2017. (Photo: AP)
London Attack: How Commoners Defied Odds to Help Each Other

London was home for over ten years and still is several days of the year. Manchester is home now. The attacks of the last few weeks have hit home both literally and figuratively. However, each time these medieval attempts to sow division have been tried, all they have accomplished is to shine a light into the tireless reservoir of strength and compassion that breathe life into these cities that I am lucky to inhabit.

Also Read: UK Police Name Two London Attackers, Say One Previously Known

Good Samaritans

The Sikh Gurdwaras opened their doors to those affected and gave them food and shelter in Manchester, and are doing so now near the London Bridge. Hundreds of ordinary citizens have done the same for strangers.

Last week, a homeless man in Manchester took the money people gave him on the street and bought flowers to lay at the memorial for the fallen at St. Anne's Square, where the bouquets now cover every square inch of the cobblestones.

The lines at the blood donation banks were so long that people had to be turned away; but not before it was clear that they would replenish the blood spilt with their own.


Dealing With Emergency

The night of the Manchester Arena attack, cab drivers drove from as far away as Liverpool, and turned off their meters as they ferried the lost to safety.

The London Bridge attackers, stabbing bystanders with large machetes, were faced down by a lone police officer wielding only a baton.

A Surrey resident saw the events unfolding on the news, and cycled 34 miles to London to bring bottles of water for the emergency response staff tending to the wounded.

A Romanian baker threw open his bakery to shelter 20 terrified people, and then went out to survey the situation. He returned, only after smashing one of the attackers over the head with a crate.

Also Read: UK Hails Man Who Fled London Attack Holding Beer an Unlikely Hero


‘You Can’t Break Our Spirit’

The morning after the attack, a defiant Londoner returned to finish his meal at the Borough Market restaurant he was dining at when the terrorists struck. He settled his unpaid bill and left a giant tip. The staff had protected him and the other diners at the restaurant after the attackers rudely interrupted their meal.

Staff from Sainsbury’s department store brought free sandwiches to police who had stood vigil on London Bridge all night. Across London, the tube stations opened with artful messages penned across their announcement boards. Walthamstow station put it neatly, “London Bridge will never fall down. You can’t break our spirit!”

If this is the legacy of what the attackers have wrought, they have already lost. Bearing witness to the hope that springs from hopeless acts is a privilege. Thank you, ordinary citizens, for being so quietly and steadfastly extraordinary.


(The writer is a UK-based development economist, lecturing at the University of Manchester. He can be reached @EconAbhishek. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own.The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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