Today (29 November 2020), exactly one year has passed since two young people were killed at an attack at London Bridge: Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones. On the first anniversary of the attack, our thoughts are with their friends and family and with everyone else whose life has been turned upside down by the events last year.
After interviewing one of the survivors of the attack, we used his memory as a starting point for a creative project. Jack Merritt’s family and friends said that they want to use the anniversary of his death to encourage us all to use creative means to express how we feel about this day and to share pictures using the hashtag #creatingwithJackMerritt. In this spirit, we would like to share some photographs that are the result of a creative collaboration between Darryn Frost and Alejandro Acin.
The 38-year-old Ministry of Justice employee Darryn Frost, who became known in the media as the “narwhal tusk hero”, was one of the first to confront the attacker. Frost and three others followed Usman Khan outside and managed to tackle and disarm him on London Bridge.
When police arrived, they found Khan on the ground. Frost was on top of him, refusing to move because Khan was wearing a fake suicide vest and Frost feared he would detonate a bomb. He said that he held onto Khan’s hands that day even after being told to move partly because he wanted to protect the people around him from Khan and partly because he wanted to protect Khan from the people around him. Using this encounter as a starting point for our creative process, we decided to take a series of pictures focusing on (Darryn’s) hands. Hands can be brutal, but they can also be healing, helping, and caring.
I have never met Jack, but I am full of admiration for his passion, wit, and energy. There can be no doubt that he did a lot more than give a helping hand to those who worked with him. Steve Gallant and John Crilly knew Jack because they had participated in Learning Together activities. In a statement issued through his lawyers, Gallant described Jack Merritt as ‘a role model and friend’ who helped him become a better person because he ‘saw who you could become and did not define you by your past’. In a similar vein, Crilly said that Jack was his ‘hero’ and that participating in the Learning Together programme had changed his life.
Jack reminds us that the future is open and worth fighting for.