Impressions From Last Night's Vigil


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Impressions From Last Night's Vigil

Around 30.000 Copenhageners took to the streets in response to last weekend's tragedy.

Last night, a vibrant sense of life and solidarity filled the streets of Copenhagen. Thousands of citizens gathered in Østerbro to pay respect to the lives lost over the weekend in Copenhagen, and to show strength and courage in the face of injustice. As the clock inched closer to 20:00 - the official start of the vigil - the crowd of around 30,000 was practically spilling out of Gunnar Nu Hansens Plads near the cafe where the first shooting occurred and the gathering place for the memorial. The spirit in the air was one of calm and togetherness, and most of all, resilient hope.


All photos by Nicole Leblanc.

"We need to show that we as a society support each other and stand together in an event like this and won't stay home," said Søren, a student in his mid-20's from the University of Copenhagen. "That's what terrorism wants—to bring this fear into us, making us stay home and not stand together as a society. So it's important to show that they're not terrifying us and that we will still function the way we used to."

Nevertheless, a tragedy of this scale strikes straight at the core of a city as tight-knit as Copenhagen. Although the atmosphere was generally hopeful, a melancholic undercurrent ran through the crowd. As I took my place among the crowd facing the distant stage, to my right was a young woman, head silently bowed and tears glistening on her cheek.

"It's terrible for Copenhagen that this is happening," she told me. "I'm sad for the city and actually for the whole world—this is a huge symbol of the problems we have and I'm not sure how we are going to solve them."

To my left, however, was an older man proudly clutching a sign that depicted two stick figures holding hands, one of which was wearing a hijab. The figures were accompanied by the text "Refugees and Muslims are Welcome".

"I think it's important to unite together and let everyone who has been affected by this know that we are all welcome," he elaborated. "Just because one guy did some horrible, crazy thing doesn't mean we should turn against entire groups of people who live in this country. It's important that a time of stress like this, we support one another and don't let the fear change how we look at each other."