‘Defiant’ in the Face of Terrorism: Londoners After the Attack

‘Defiant’ in the Face of Terrorism: Londoners After the Attack

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LONDON — After the terrorist attack that struck London, a determined calm pervaded the city.

A police cordon was in place around Parliament Square, cutting off cars along major thoroughfares in the heart of the capital. But much of the regular rhythm of the city persisted after the Wednesday attack, which was the deadliest to hit London since the July 7, 2005, bombings, known as 7/7.

Public transport was largely unaffected, businesses remained open, and tourist spots like the London Eye still had lines. Across much of the city, Londoners expressed a resolute stoicism, an explicit effort to defy what they saw as an attempt to upend their way of life.

Here, in their own words, are the voices of London residents.

‘I didn’t change my routine.’

Richard Dove

Credit
Prashant S. Rao/NYT

Born and bred in London, Richard Dove, 39, walked as usual to work at an events planning company, near the Royal Festival Hall along the south bank of the Thames River.

London has moods. Sometimes it goes up, sometimes it comes down. It seems a little muted today, but I would expect that.

London’s always going to be a target. I think you accept that when you’re a Londoner, you’re a little more vigilant, you’re a little more stoic about it, because you just know that someone is going to have a beef with the city at some point.

I did feel obviously a little more vigilant but no sense of trepidation. I will hang out in all the same spots, I will do all the same things. With a city this size, there’s a certain risk being here anyway. You have to accept it.

‘We’re comfortable with this.’

Sam Constantas

Credit
Prashant S. Rao/NYT

Sam Constantas, 46, has lived in south London most of her life. She stood on Charing Cross Bridge, looking out onto Parliament with a friend, Jayne.

London feels slightly quieter maybe, slightly less tourists. But the suburbs and coming in on public transport? No, it doesn’t feel any different at all.

We’re just used to it in some ways. We had the I.R.A. bombings. We had 7/7. It’s a capital city. We’re always going to have things like this going on. If you’re working, or traveling, or here most of the time, it’s not something that you can let rule your life.

Probably, today is the safest time to come into London. There’s a lot of police around, everybody is very aware of anything, suspect packages or cars, or anything like that.

‘The city carries on.’

Stuart Evans

Credit
Prashant S. Rao/NYT

A financial planner, Stuart Evans, 47, rushed between appointments to Victoria Embankment, just a short walk from the site of the attacks.

I think the city braces itself and carries on. There is a viewpoint that effectively, if we let acts like yesterday change us, then the people who perpetrated those have won.

London, over many, many years, you can go back to the 1940s, has a spirit that says: You can hit us. We may get down, but we’re going to get back up again.

Like any capital city in the world, and any large city in the world, it has a spirit of its own. And that spirit is one that just is defiant.

‘It can happen anywhere, any day.’

Maarit Soshik, 47, from Finland, has lived in Britain for 20 years. Mrs. Soshik says she was affected by the images of schoolchildren being escorted from Parliament shortly after the attack and came to the center of the city to gauge the atmosphere.

I have 11- and 13-year-old boys. It was upsetting to see schoolkids. When I saw the kids on TV, almost the same age as my children, I thought how life changes so quickly.

It is very calm, almost back to normal. It’s nice to see so soon it’s back to normal. They don’t want to give in to fear.

I think normal life takes over. You can’t live like that. You might have fear but you can’t stop doing things.

‘It was exactly the same.’

Lloyd Clipston

Credit
Prashant S. Rao/The New York Times

From the north of England, Lloyd Clipston, 20, now lives in Brockley, in southeast London, where he is studying illustration. He was skateboarding along the south bank of the Thames River, with the backdrop of Big Ben, the clock tower at Parliament.

If you couldn’t see all the police and helicopters and stuff, it wouldn’t seem like anything had changed. It wouldn’t have seemed like people had gone about their routine any differently. I had to come down past Westminster, had to take the long way round. But up and until I got right in front of Parliament, it was exactly the same.

I’ve only lived here for a year, so this is the only time that I’ve been living here when something like this has happened. I thought it would have been a bit more frantic and a bit more panicked. But it really wasn’t, at all.

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