London's searing month: Terror, trauma, political upheaval

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Terrorist attacks and a devastating fire are seared into our memories: the volley of police shots at Borough Market repeated on TV, and the screams for help from blazing Grenfell Tower heard in mobile phone recordings posted to social media. At least 89 people dead altogether.

Then there was the election result. Less traumatic, of course, but still, another shock. This is probably how historians will remember this time — Theresa May, barely clinging to power, and starting negotiations to take Britain out of the European Union.
It began on Saturday, June 3, on London Bridge when a white van rammed into pedestrians and then was left abandoned. Three men descended into the warren of Borough Market and its tourist pubs and restaurants. The men carried long knives strapped to their wrists and stabbed anyone in sight.

Police Constable Wayne Marques heard a woman scream, got his baton out and charged. He was knifed in the head — just by his right eye — but somehow survived with multiple injuries. “My one aim was to keep people alive,” he said. “Just keep people alive.”

The Grenfell Tower fire in west London claimed the most lives (at least 80). The 24-story tower block was rapidly engulfed in flames in the early hours of Wednesday, June 14.

You couldn’t escape the horror of it, the images of a tower turned in minutes into an incinerator. The emergency services received more than 600 calls that night from people trapped inside. Walls and railings remain festooned with photos of the missing. People are still laying fresh flowers.

And finally, there’s a small shrine — flowers and scribbled notes — on a corner of an anonymous lane just off the busy Seven Sisters Road in Finsbury Park, north London. In the early hours of Monday, June 19, a white van veered into the lane and plowed into a group of mostly Somali worshippers standing on the corner. One man was killed and 10 others injured.
Hundreds gather at Finsbury Park vigil

June in London has been a month of chilling stories, sounds and images. But there have been some redeeming moments and much heroism. At Finsbury Park, we were reminded of Londoners’ common humanity — that communities here happily live side by side.

The Somali owner of a nearby café, Abdul Muridi, was quickly on the scene. Muridi, 29, was the first to spot that one of his fellow Somalis had been trapped under the van with serious injuries. It took some 30 men to lift the vehicle, including three tattooed white Londoners. Muridi called them over to help. He didn’t know their names, but he was grateful they lent a hand.



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