Socialist Worker

A powerful meeting demands justice for Grenfell

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2590

Moyra Samuels addresses the meeting

Moyra Samuels addresses the meeting (Pic: Stand Up To Racism)


An important meeting injected urgency into the Justice4Grenfell campaign on Thursday night.

Around 200 people came together to plot the course forward for the campaign for justice for the victims and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Speakers from bereaved families, Stand Up To Racism, the Fire Brigades Union, the National Education Union (NEU) and Defend Council Housing (DCH) argued for unity in the face of establishment attempts at a cover-up.

Eileen Short from DCH argued that Grenfell "has to be forefront of every organisation that claims to stand for justice and fairness."

NEU general secretary Kevin Courtney said, "The people in government who, for financial reasons, say they don't want sprinklers in schools or tower blocks... those people are guilty... perhaps not of murder, but those people are guilty.

"We want to see who made those guilty decisions and we want them to pay for it."

Amnesty

On Thursday the deadline for undocumented migrants who survived the fire to apply for amnesty from deportation elapsed.

Earlier in the day local MP Emma Dent-Coad had written a letter along with shadow home secretary Diane Abbott raising concerns.

"All the voices that need to be heard cannot be heard if these people are deported or live in fear of the children," said the letter.

They're absolutely right.

At Thursday's meeting Dent-Coad said that she had submitted ten questions related to the amnesty to Tory immigration minister Brandon Lewis. She said the answers should be expected next week.

Challenging

“I hope that it will be challenged and Justice4Grenfell will certainly be challenging it," said Moyra Samuels from the Justice4Grenfell campaign in relation to the news.

The issue of rehousing survivors remains central to the campaign. Dent-Coad told the meeting that there are 150 empty council homes in the borough, and 14 in just one building near to Grenfell Tower—Trellick Tower.

On Wednesday the Financial Times newspaper interviewed the leader of Kensington and Chelsea council Elizabeth Campbell.

“You say, well, should we have done things differently? But I’m starting from now," she said. "I’m thinking, 'OK, how will we do things differently? Where do we go from here?'”

Part of the Tory-controlled council's solution has been to bring in management consultants to train council staff on cultural change.

It’s further evidence of how distant the council remains from ordinary people in North Kensington.

One speaker from the floor summed up the lack of trust people have in the public inquiry into the fire by quoting the feminist, activist and poet Audre Lorde, "For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house."

Another speaker backed this up. "Shouting on our own doesn't work," they said. "The campaign has shown we need to get out there and campaign."


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