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Londoners Pack Site Of Terror Attack In Show Of Resilience

Jul 13, 2017
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

After terror attacks in the city of Paris, Parisians were determined to deliver a message. Everyone was supposed to go to the bistro, to restaurants, to cafes, reclaiming places where terrorists had struck. Well, now the same thing is happening this summer in London, after four terror attacks in a little over three months across the U.K. Lauren Frayer reports from the scene of one of those attacks.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: I'm strolling across London Bridge on a sunny Saturday afternoon. There's a bachelorette party that just pedaled by on bicycles built for two that blast music out of them. People stop and pause and look out at the iconic Tower Bridge across from us. And so it's pretty impossible to imagine what happened right here just several weeks ago. There are no flowers, no memorials.

GARY VOIGHT: They've come over the bridge. They've crashed into the bridge. They've come round the back here. Yeah. They tried to come for - yeah, a group of my friends inside.

FRAYER: Gary Voight closed his fruit stall in Borough Market and was having a beer with his mates that Saturday night when terrorists ran in with knives.

VOIGHT: Within eight minutes, they've been shot down. I mean, they've done a tremendous job, the police - eight minutes. I mean, that's not just getting here, that's gunning them down as well.

FRAYER: To honor the eight victims of the attack, Stefan Moran, who works nearby, has come to Borough Market several times a week since then. He doesn't want to shop anywhere else.

STEFAN MORAN: Well, you don't give into the sort of rubbish. That's what terrorists want is for you to be afraid. I'm not afraid of your stupid fake ideology or fake superstition or whatever you think you're fighting for. I've got a life to live, and you're not invited.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

FRAYER: Borough Market is actually this warren of streets that goes under an elevated railway track. It's absolutely packed with people and smells of food being grilled outside, paella, cuisines from all over the world and also people from all over the world. Oh, my gosh, here's a pig on a spit here.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Strawberry, best kept strawberry. Come and have a look.

FRAYER: For about 1,000 years, Borough Market consisted of a bunch of fruit and veg vendors. High-end restaurants started cropping up on the perimeter about 20 years ago. Everything was shut down for 10 days after the June 3 terror attack. Vendors got compensation from a hardship fund. Some of the posh eateries are donating a percentage of their profits to victims. Bookings are down on weekends. Many say that's the tourist crowd. But mid-week, they're absolutely jammed with locals. Richard Eyre lives around the corner and is old enough to remember IRA bombings in the 1980s. He says Londoners are resilient.

RICHARD EYRE: You know, bad things happen from time to time. And it was a terrible thing that happened, but, you know, going to go on - got to get your sandwich from somewhere, you know?

FRAYER: Within hours of the market attack, that quintessentially British refrain - keep calm and carry on - was trending as a hashtag on Twitter. Lauren Frayer, NPR News in London's Borough Market.

(SOUNDBITE OF BEAUTIFUL KILLING MACHINE'S "RIGHT IS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.