More than 3,000 people marched through west London to demand justice for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire on Thursday. The monthly Silent Walk came on the six month anniversary of the blaze at the west London tower block.
Anger at the causes of the fire runs deep.
Firefighters in uniform lined the route of the march. As it came to an end cries of "justice" rang out under the Westway flyover. And one marcher shouted out, "No to another Hillsborough—not two decades for justice”.
March organiser Zeyad Cred said, “We cannot be ignored as we get stronger and stronger.”
The right wing media is trying to drive a wedge between survivors and justice campaigners. It is pointing to “dignified silence” as the proper way for survivors and the community to conduct themselves.
Ordinary people should take no lectures from the gutter press about how to conduct themselves.
People need a space to mourn—but they are also angry. Youssef, whose uncle and cousin died in the fire, told Socialist Worker, “The Silent Walks are important, but we also need to make our voices heard.”
Residents in west London are still suffering from the fire.
Some 1,000 people have been screened for mental health issues. The proportion of those diagnosed with PTSD is at the highest end of a spectrum expected by mental health professionals.
Activists have taken over a space underneath the Westway dual carriageway and turned it into a community centre. One mental health volunteer told Socialist Worker her team could be moving into the space once it was up and running.
The inquiry into the causes of the fire began earlier this week. As the inquiry began, families' lawyers demanded that their clients are not sidelined by the process, which many survivors have slammed as unrepresentative.
Earlier in the day a memorial service was held for the dead at St Paul's cathedral in central London. Survivors were told that "this new year can bring new hope of a future" by the Bishop of Kensington.
For there to be hope there must be justice—and that means pointing the finger at those who are to blame for the fire. The Tory government and Kensington and Chelsea council are responsible for creating the conditions that led to the fire.
They pushed through housing policies that put profit ahead of people’s lives—and repeatedly ignored residents’ concerns about fire safety.
And six months on, the Tories are treating the survivors and residents with the same contempt.
It will take a political fight to get justice.