Office workers, imams and students filled Trafalgar Square to remember those who lost their lives in Wednesday’s attack. Flanked by a sea of police officers, the mood was solemn but defiant.
Candles flickered on downturned faces as people paid tribute to those who had been killed and injured. The words “solidarity” and “unity” could be heard being exchanged in conversation after conversation.
Apart from intermittent bursts of applause the crowd remained quiet as Met Police Acting Commissioner Craig Mackey, Home Secretary Amber Rudd and the London Mayor Sadiq Khan addressed the events which brought Westminster and the heart of the capital to a standstill.
"Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism,” Mr Khan said, prompting cheers, as his voice rung with determination.
"Our response to this attack on our city, on our way of life, our shared values, shows the world what it means to be a Londoner."
After a minute of silence, a mixed crowd of all ages and races wiped their eyes and shuffled forward to light candles as dusk turned to night.
"Love for all, hatred for none,” read one sign.
Joel, 50, who is from Ireland but has lived in London for 29 years, told The Independent he was still struggling to come to terms with what had happened. “It’s a bit shocking, a bit sudden, and random and like many others here, I’m trying to make sense and of what happened and file it in my mind somewhere.”
“You don’t know if you are doing the right thing going into a public space where something else might happen but I did not want terrorism to win. Terrorism is about curtailing people’s freedom and if I were not to have come, it would have won.”
People in office clothes who had clearly come straight from work stood shoulder to shoulder with tourists. A couple of Charlton fans proudly bared their red and white scarves in order to show solidarity with Keith Palmer, the policeman who was fatally stabbed during the attack. Pc Palmer was a devoted fan of the south London League One club. As such, the team have paid tribute to him, with a scarf being laid on the seat he frequently filled at their stadium.
Miles and Ollie, both 20-year-old students at Kings College, said attending the vigil had helped them deal with the atrocity. “It just feels right to come down and be among other people. That’s the great thing about London, it’s going to keep moving no matter what, we can’t let something like this stop us from going about our daily lives.”
Zishan Ahmed, 25, an imam based in a mosque in Morden in south west London, also expressed defiance. “We’ve come here to show that we as Muslims stand behind everyone else and that we condemn any terrorism or act of extremism,” he said.
“The act which was done yesterday does not portray the true message of Islam, the Quran says if you kill one person it is the equivalent of killing mankind.
“What happened yesterday is not an Islamic terrorist attack, it is a terror attack, that should be made very clear. Any terrorist attacks should not be associated with any religion.”
Emily, 21, who works in Farringdon, said: “London is open no matter what and will remain so.”
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