Great Britain unites
On Wednesday 22nd March 2017 at about 3pm reports began to emerge that a police officer had been seriously injured outside the Houses of Parliament. Phones buzzed, apps nudged and the UK began to tune in to a developing scenario that was quickly becoming a tragedy. Initial reports indicated that a terror suspect had driven a 4x4 vehicle up the pavement on the bridge adjacent to Westminster Palace before eventually swerving and crashing in to railings before attempting to enter the palace and eventually being shot dead by security services.
In the age of 24 hour rolling news over TV, online and mobile there has certainly developed an atmosphere of sensationalism over the smallest and most irrelevant stories. Examples of this could perhaps be found on the likes of Sky Sports News on deadline day where a huge announcement trails across the screen in a yellow banner to announce that a league one reserve goalkeeper has signed a new contract at Sheffield United. Also refer to almost dedicated coverage of Donald Trump’s every move. Trump is enough of a buffoon to slip up on his own without the world’s media reporting every single tweet he sends.
So it came to pass that as the utterly tragic details of the attack became to emerge there were incorrect facts and speculation flying around in the airwaves of TV and the internet. The most shocking examples of the sheer selfishness and sensationalism that has come to define modern news coverage were images circulating Twitter of the dead before their bodies were even cold on the pavement and multiple videos of victims fighting for life indicating that many, rather than help, followed their first instinct to whip their phones out for the retweets. Channel 4 and Sky ended up no better off, confirming the name of the attacker as somebody who was sat in prison at the time.
Whilst fake news is such a prevalent issue in the current media spectrum, with paranoia and mistrust on the rise it would serve news agencies well to ensure that fact checking is at the centre of what they do.
So what do we know so far? According to BBC News, one of the few outlets not to report the incorrect name of the killer, “At 14:40 GMT on Wednesday, the man police believe carried out the London attack, Khalid Masood, drove a car that he had hired from a depot in Birmingham over Westminster Bridge, near the Houses of Parliament. One witness said he sped up, mounted the pavement, and began hitting pedestrians indiscriminately. Two people, Aysha Frade and US tourist Kurt Cochran, were killed and dozens more were injured. A 75-year-old man, Leslie Rhodes from Streatham in south London, died the next day. Witnesses described seeing figures lying on the pavement. One man said he saw a single trainer on one side of the road, and a body on the other. The car then crashed into railings outside the Houses of Parliament. Masood, armed with a knife, left his car and ran towards Parliament, where he was confronted by police. PC Keith Palmer - who was not armed - was stabbed and killed. Masood was then shot dead by armed officers.
Despite the horror inflicted by a lone murderous lunatic many were reminded that these events remain extremely rare and the city of London as well as wider Great Britain came together in a show of support and solidarity ensuring that the intentions of terrorists will never bear fruit.
Candle lit vigils and shows of solidarity appeared across the city and to the point of publication the public have raised nearly half a million pounds to support the family of the murdered policeman.
Terrorism will never win, it will never defeat democracy and the values of freedom held so dearly across the UK and from the darkness of tragedy it can be said that the light of solidarity shone bright from the nation’s capital and across the world this week.