On the night of Monday May 22, 2017, just as the concert of 23-year old American pop singer Ariana Grande was ending, an attacker detonated a suicide bomb at Manchester’s Manchester Arena. 22 people were killed, and 120 were injured, 20 of those were in critical condition. After they received their first emergency call at 10.33pm Manchester’s emergency services responded with 60 ambulances, taking patients to eight hospitals in the Greater Manchester area. Ordinary local people also stepped in to assist: taxi drivers and other volunteers worked through the night to take people home free of charge. One local woman, Paula Robinson, rushed a group of 50 stranded teens to the safety of a nearby hotel and co-ordinated returning them to their families. And a story emerged of homeless man Steve Jones who was among the first on the scene and helped tend to the injured and the dying.
By the morning of the 23rd, the city woke up to the news, and horrified local people stepped in to help in a myriad ways, with gestures that included offering free food and drink for the emergency services, queuing up to donate blood at local centers, fundraising for the victims, and organizing the sharing of information to find missing people, as well as laying tributes. A vigil was organised outside of Manchester’s town hall in Albert Square, attended by thousands of people. After loud speakers played Edward Elgar’s “Nimrod” a spontaneous silence fell over the crowd. Local faith and political leaders, including Manchester’s newly elected mayor Andy Burnham, spoke of unity. A highlight for many was the reading of a poem “This is the Place” by local poet Tony Walsh, an ode to Manchester that spoke of the city’s history, character and sense of pride.
Magnum nominee Matt Stuart, was in Manchester, documenting the city and its people on a sadly historic day. “It was a very sombre day and a lot of people were still in shock. By 6pm at the vigil there was a spirit of togetherness and defiance that was overwhelmingly strong,” he said. His pictures of the vigil are presented alongside the portraits and words of Manchester residents.
“When I heard the news this morning, I was shocked. I wanted to come into the city to get an idea of what had happened. It feels different, emptier than usual. The police have said to avoid the city center, and it’s clear that many people have taken this advice. Many shops are closed too. You can feel that many people have been affected. It’s like a bad dream.” – Aaron, 32, from Manchester.
“I actually wanted to go to the concert with a friend, but then she decided to go on holiday instead and so we didn’t end up going. I live around the corner from the Arena and heard the explosion. I didn’t think anything of it at first, not even when the ambulances arrived. I was constantly hearing sirens in the area. But then came the texts, friends were asking if I was okay. I started reaching out to friends on social media too. Ariana Grande is an icon of the LGBT-Community, and I have lots of friends there. It’s really heartbreaking that it happened here.” – Emily, 21, from Manchester.
“It is shocking, so many kids. It’s pure brutality– these people know no limits. I have a 2-and-a-half-year-old. I can imagine what other parents must be feeling. I am a little concerned, but as we say: don’t let them win.” – Jonathan, 36, from Manchester.
“I know a few people who were at the concert; some colleagues from my bar on Canal Street. I also thought about going. Luckily nothing happened to them. It was probably some crazy one-time offender, a madman. And the media are doing him a favor by making it a big deal. We should stay cool and continue living our lives.” – Owen, 34, from Manchester.
“I found out about the attack this morning, after waking up. My mother cried, my father had shrunken into himself. It could have happened to me or my little sister. I know people who wanted to go to the concert. The atmosphere in Manchester is pretty heavy but the city has good community spirit. You can feel something has happened.” – Rhianne, 18, from Manchester.
“On Tuesday morning I was at my Phone Shop in the Arndale Shopping Centre, when suddenly people started running towards me. They were screaming for everyone to get out. Even the security personnel were shouting. I left everything and joined them. Outside, I asked a Policeman what had actually happened. He said, a suspicious bag was found. In the end it was nothing. We do an evacuation drill twice a year, but I had never experienced a real emergency. I’m very afraid that something else will happen after yesterday night’s attack.” – Paolo, 30, Italian, has lived in Manchester for 5 years.
“It’s terrifying. It’s not right to do something like that to kids. I never would have thought that that could happen here. Those kinds of things happen in London. When I heard the helicopters circling, I thought, oh my god, this is real. I still can’t quite believe it.” – Chloe, 18, from Manchester.
“I wasn’t expecting an attack, even though we are constantly being reminded that we should be. People are worried, the city is not as lively as usual. As I was travelling into the city this morning, many people suggested against it. As the Arndale Shopping Centre was being cleared, I immediately called my mother. But I am glad that this city is pulling through. Everyone is offering rooms, taxi drivers have been taking people for free. That is why I love this city so much. We are British, we are staying strong. We’re not going to change our lives.” – Joshua, 22, from Manchester.
“Some of my friends were at the concert and one of them said she was trampled over, but they’re all doing well now. We were at university this morning and now we’re going shopping. You can’t give up on living.” – Emma, 18, from Manchester.
All quotes © Spiegel Online.