Terrorist Attack: Evil returns to London

March 23, 2017 OPINION/NEWS

AFP photo

 

By

Hazel Speed

I had planned to write an article about the second day of debate and vote in the Scottish Parliament regarding Nicola Sturgeon’s quest for another Scottish Referendum. No sooner had I switched to BBC TV – Parliament network, when a news flash scrolled across the screen advising of a terrorist attack in Central London. I immediately switched to BBC News and followed the broadcast as facts emerged throughout the day. It was a grim and sad scene.

London is not only the capital city, where the Mother of all Parliaments is based, but leading to the Palace of Westminster is a glorious bridge as one approaches ‘Big Ben’ based on the left hand side of what is a broad road, from which Parliament can be viewed to great advantage.

It has featured in many famous films since at least the 1950s or beyond. St Thomas’s Hospital faces Parliament, the Bridge separates them, but is also their mutual link.

Not only was this terrorist attack perverse in itself, killing, maiming, scaring and destroying human lives, devastating families, but also, like Nice, Berlin and all the other places used for such depravity, places that usually are visited for what should provide happy memories, are now also scarred by association with evil and tragedy.

About 2.40pm Wednesday 22nd March 2017 a vehicle drove across Westminster Bridge pavement, mowing people down and eventually driven against the external barrier on the corner grounds of the Palace of Westminster.

A man then broke through the barrier and eye witnesses say he had either a knife or stick – a Policeman challenged him and the attacker could be seen striking the Policeman either hitting him with a stick or stabbing him.

A Police colleague ran for help, the attacker was given some kind of warning, by an armed Policeman, then it became necessary for him to be shot.

Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood MP was also quickly on the scene and tried to save the life of the stabbed Policeman, later named as PC Keith Palmer, by giving him mouth to mouth resuscitation, but sadly was unsuccessful.

It appeared from the TV clip that Mr Ellwood had blood on his clothes. It will have been a poignant emotional moment for him, especially as he lost his own Brother, Jonathan, in 2002 due to the Bali bombing.

As someone stated, a Policeman went to work today to put his life on the line by protecting Parliament, but sadly would not be going home again this evening.

There is a sad irony in so many ways with today’s events.

Firstly, the vehicle tried to crash through the barrier which leads to the underground car park for Parliament, probably just yards from where Airey Neave was blown up through a bomb under his car back in 1970s courtesy of the IRA.

Today, tourists, and people going to their work places, walked along Westminster Bridge, only to be mown down as a vehicle driven by a terrorist attacker, mounted the pavement and changed all that in a moment.

Some victims were French school students. It was said three Policemen were returning from a commendation ceremony.

Another lady apparently ended up in the Thames severely injured, they retrieved her from the River, but as yet I have not heard further detail as to whether she jumped into the water to escape being killed, or was thrown into the Thames by the force of the vehicle.

Reports kept emerging throughout the day that about 20 people were lying on the bridge after being struck.

Earlier, another Police Officer had difficulty with an initial statement which tacitly prepared the listener to the fact he was probably aware he had lost a colleague but that confirmation would be announced later.

One woman was pronounced dead from the attack on the bridge but as the hours went by, four were reported dead (which included the attacker himself) and twenty people were reported to have suffered serious injuries.

Tourists captured video clips of members of the public running away from the area near Parliament and one could hear gun shots.

During all these sad events, Parliament had just finished Prime Minister’s Questions, so the session was suspended and lock down announced by the Deputy Speaker, who said he had been informed an incident was ongoing within the Palace Estate and that a Policeman had been stabbed. Apparently, Members of Parliament were also told to lie on the floor for their own safety.

The Prime Minister was extricated to Downing Street and an emergency Cobra security meeting was arranged for later in the evening.

Portcullis House is a modern secure building adjacent to the Houses of Parliament and MPs have offices there as well as journalists and office staff.

Many witnessed all these events from their offices so rang the BBC and tweeted accounts of events but were advised to keep away from the windows.

Lock down in both the locations meant that though everyone was hopefully secure, they were also restricted from leaving the scene and eventually about 1,000 people were transferred to Westminster Abbey for briefing and obtaining their witness statements.

There were other factors, reports of people being cut (machete or knife), and some thought the driver of the vehicle was a white male whilst others said he was black. This caused the authorities to consider if there were two attackers and so the net widened to ensure that no second attacker had escaped.

Many ambulances, paramedics and even an air ambulance on the lawn opposite Parliament, made today’s attack, and its consequences only too real.

If, as some are wanting, in the near future, for Parliament to leave its Palace Estate, thereby enabling the buildings to be restored whilst empty, then MPs and Lords, along with Staff, may be more vulnerable than if they stayed within Parliament and its confines whilst works are carried out around them.

It had later been announced that three school children from Brittany were also struck in this attack. Twenty+ injured, eight treated and allowed to leave hospital. Five died including the assailant and the late PC Keith Palmer. Some of the injured were taken to St Thomas’s Hospital and others went to King’s Hospital.

President Trump telephoned Mrs May, expressing sympathy for the British people, as have Leaders from other Countries, all expressing thoughts and prayers for the families of those who have been killed, injured, or have been caught up in some way with today’s sad events.

Westminster Bridge has remained sealed for forensic scrutiny.

Nicola Sturgeon, upon hearing of the events unfolding at Westminster, suspended the Scottish Parliamentary session until tomorrow, though to be honest, how she can continue with her rhetoric to separate from the UK after today’s events is something most of us would just not have the stomach for.

The UK needs to cleave together at this time more than ever. As Mrs May has said herself, now is not the time.

It will say more against Scotland otherwise if she continues, especially as (a) permission will not be given for another Scottish Referendum until post Brexit anyway so her efforts will achieve nothing; (b) she cannot stay in Europe so if Scotland left the UK and the UK was leaving Europe, then who would she trade with; (c) most importantly, the average Scot does not want another Referendum at this point in time. Will they after today? Not if they have any heart.

The UK Parliament (which still represents Scotland as a Constituent Country), will, however, reconvene tomorrow to prove to the world that the Mother of all Parliaments is still a democracy and as Iain Duncan Smith said this evening, this is what we do and who we are – what we believe in – democracy.

I was surprised not to see any military presence today but am sure their services would have been on stand-by.

The Police announced areas that were restricted or no-go streets until they ensured there was not a second attacker – it seems to appear that they are as certain as they can be that there was only one attacker now though.

A Minister arriving on the nearby underground system realised that there was an incident and was able to warn them to shut down that area so that people could not exit into danger. Quick thinking which may have saved lives also.

The public has been told that every station throughout the UK will have extra personnel whether armed uniformed Police or plain clothes Officers, the public should be assured they are present.

After the sorrow of today we must all value what we have in our lives as it can all be taken away in a moment. For those who weep today, our thoughts and prayers go out to you all.

The lights on the top of the Eiffel Tower are to be switched off at midnight in an act of solidarity.

The people of the UK say ‘thank you’, especially to the brave Officers who gave their lives to protect us all today. The ultimate price to lay down one’s life for another. God be with all who mourn and those who were injured physically and mentally today.

It is best to leave the last words with Prime Minister May, who was visibly moved by events today, as were we all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hazel Speed

Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine

Hazel Speed is a Philosopher, Writer, and Artist with various creative projects at differing stages of development. Her flaship project is an animation which has produced a film short: www.thepinkprofessor.com. She has also written an E-novel, ‘Just Suppose…!‘ which is available via the attached link.

Art sites: www.candystoreart.comwww.terrificart.comwww.artbadges.co.uk.

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