RWU abroad perspective on Westminster tragedy

Photo contributed by Kyle Gravel

Kyle Gravel

Herald Reporter

Five people have died, with more than 50 injured in the attack on Westminster, London last week. The attacks took place right outside Parliament, Westminster Bridge, and on the Parliamentary Courtyard. The attacker, Khalid Masood, 52, killed four pedestrians and injured about 50 others as he mowed down members of the public with a car on Westminster Bridge at about 2:40 p.m. on Wednesday. He then proceeded to the Gates of Parliament, stabbing an on-duty guard numerous times before being shot dead by armed police.

The attack was later claimed by the so-called Islamic State. In an address to Members of Parliament, Prime Minister Theresa May said, “What I can confirm is that the man was British-born and that some years ago he was once investigated by MI5 in relation to concerns about violent extremism.”

While the nation has mourned and now carries on with life, Britain’s official terror threat level remains at “severe,” meaning an attack is highly likely.

Anti-terror police have arrested eight people in the wake of the attack. Several addresses were raided overnight in London and Birmingham as Mark Rowley, the Metropolitan Police’s senior anti-terror officer, said he believed the attacker was working alone.

May, who was rushed away from Parliament to Downing Street during the incident, said the actions of millions around the country showed terrorists “we will never give in.”

She went on to say, “The greatest response lies not in the words of politicians, but in the everyday actions of ordinary people. For beyond these walls today, in scenes repeated in towns and cities across the country, millions of people are going about their days and getting on with their lives.”

The officer who was stabbed by the attacker, PC Keith Palmer, later died from his wounds. Paying tribute to the fallen officer, May said: “He was every inch a hero and his actions will never be forgotten.”

Just under a half-mile away, I was at the National Portrait Gallery. After receiving numerous breaking news updates on my phone, I knew the attack was happening. Videos of the attack started to surface, where I saw the horror take place in a familiar setting; the thought was chilling, as I walk the street where the attack took place almost daily.

News helicopters took to the skies as I left the building, the London Underground had closed, and sirens blocked off every route to Westminster. Though it seemed that most Londoners were going about their day as they would usually, the phone conversations I overheard from those who walked by me echoed sentiments about the attack, with people asking, “Are you safe?”

Due to strict gun legislation in the United Kingdom, the lives of many were spared. When recognizing the ever-prevalent occurrences of mass shootings taking place in the U.S., we can realize how desensitized we as Americans are to violence; people in London may have been spared in this attack, thankfully.

While the story was still developing, the facts were being twisted and made up. While the hate and damaging words about Muslims echoed from Fox News and social media, London did not hesitate to shut down the remarks.

“Part and parcel of living in a great global city is you’ve got to be prepared for these things, you’ve got to be vigilant, you’ve got to support the police doing an incredibly hard job,” said London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan.

President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., went after Khan, taking his words out of context hours after the attack.

He tweeted: “You have to be kidding me?!: Terror attacks are part of living in big city, says London Mayor Sadiq Khan.”

When asked if he will respond, Khan said in an interview with CNN, “I’m not going to respond to a tweet from Donald Trump Jr., I’ve been doing more important things over the past 24 hours.”

In a land that does not hate, a land that does not turn away, those in need will remain vigilant to those who wish to disrupt love and humanity.