On Saturday the 3rd of June, three men drove into pedestrians on London Bridge before launching a knife attack in Borough Market. Seven people were killed and forty-eight were injured.
As someone who works on London Bridge, and lives close by, Saturday’s attack hit me hard. The same bridge on which I’d seen countless fashion shoots, protests, and broadcasters capturing the morning commute, was now the scene of a barbaric attack. The city’s values of multiculturalism and openness both seemed to be targets.
But Londoners, and indeed Brits in general, have a habit of getting on and going about their daily business no matter what. In that spirit, I thought I’d share with you some of London Bridge’s finest human rights moments.
On 21st January 2017, the day Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, over 250 banners were dropped from bridges all over the world. The banners served to protest against the global rise of the far right. Each banner had its own individualised message after the #BridgesNotWalls movement acknowledged there are “so many good reasons to protest this moment that it’s impossible to fit them all on one banner”. Was London Bridge involved? You bet. And with the crucial message of #BlackLivesMatter.
2. Eradicating Poverty: Plan Zheroes at Borough Market
Poverty can lead to the erosion of rights such as the right to health, education, adequate housing, and access to food. Borough Market and its team are doing what they can to help with the latter.
They’ve partnered with two organisations in order to deliver Borough Market’s left-over food to those most in need: Plan Zheroes, the online community getting surplus food to people who need it, and Better Bankside bikes, which are electric-assisted, zero-emission bikes. Last year, the Market’s traders collectively donated 8,909kg of surplus food—that’s the equivalent of around 17,800 meals—to 15 charities across the capital.
3. Freedom of the Press at News International and The Shard…
Freedom of the press is essential to a functioning democracy. The UK has a long tradition of protecting the free expression of the media, giving it extra protections in our primary human rights law, the Human Rights Act.
The News Building is a 17-storey office block just beside London Bridge Station and Borough Market. It houses all of News UK‘s London operations, including The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun and HarperCollins. Close by, News International’s sister building, the Shard, houses Al Jazeera media. Many journalists at these organisations ensure our political leaders are held to account, that tip-offs on corporate scandals are investigated, and that the public is kept continually informed of developments across the world.
4. …And Freedom to Protest at News International and The Shard
From 23rd to 29th March 2015, Occupy London protesters took to the Shard to campaign against the limited ownership of Britain’s media, which they argued diluted freedom of the press. The ‘Occupy Rupert Murdoch’ protesters claimed that all of Britain’s media is owned by only five billionaire individuals.
Speaking in a YouTube interview, Occupy member Donnachadh McCarthy complained not only do these individuals own 80% of the media and newspapers we read, they also own “TV stations, press agencies, book companies, cinemas, even cinema production companies”. He concluded: “So anything that we think speaks about Britain is merely controlled by five men who dominate, monopolise, our culture.”
5. March for Europe
On 24th June 2016, thousands of people marched across London Bridge to protest against the UK referendum decision to leave the European Union (EU). The EU has played a big role in protecting our human rights, as our articles on this subject explain, and London Bridge again provided people with a place to exercise their right to protest.
And now for a few images of my own…
I love living and working at London Bridge. Here are a few pictures showing the diversity and vibrancy of this classic London area.
The attacks on London Bridge and Borough Market were shocking and cruel, but London Bridge’s long and interesting history suggests that the bridge and its people will continue to stand firm. Do take time to enjoy this vibrant part of the city the next time you’re in town.