Socialist Worker

Grenfell campaigner - ‘We have to fight to get justice in the here and now’

by Moyra Samuels, community relations officer, Justice4Grenfell
Issue No. 2608

 

Grenfell campaigner Moyra Samuels speaking at the Marxism 2017 festival

Grenfell campaigner Moyra Samuels speaking at the Marxism 2017 festival (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Justice4Grenfell was set up in the days following the fire in the absence of a response from the authorities.

Initially it was dealing with the needs of the community, and it set up the monthly Silent Walk. The bereaved families and the survivors were not being heard.

We needed to honour and remember them, but also to identify the issues the community was facing in those early days.

Everything from sorting out donations to providing emotional support had to be dealt with.

As the months have progressed we’ve become an increasingly political voice which scrutinises the response of the local authority and the government.

We want to show how local and national policy has failed people before, during and after the fire.

There needs to be pressure on the public inquiry. For example, the demand for a diverse panel was put in early on.

We also put a demand that the wider role of social housing be discussed as part of the inquiry—that wasn’t accepted.

We want to scrutinise what the inquiry’s going to be able to deliver in terms of truth and justice.

It’s important to remember that a criminal investigation is going on in the background. People must be held accountable and prosecuted for what they have done.

The monthly Silent Walk is now managed by a committee. That’s been a positive step forward.

It’s turned into a big event in the community and the change means that everyone gets an equal say in what direction it goes in.

Groups are beginning to come together as people increasingly realise the threat the state represents to the campaign for justice.

I do a lot of work going to union meetings and conferences to speak, such as the FBU union conference last week. Part of what we do is about joining the dots between austerity, privatisation and deregulation.

Union members are experiencing the same attacks that led to Grenfell—all working class people are.

Solidarity

It’s about solidarity. They can support us, but every win the campaign for justice achieves is a victory for the whole of the working class.

That’s why the campaign needs to be about more than just the immediate responsibility of who was guilty.

Of course that’s crucial, but we need to see change in housing policy at a national level, we need to see a new generation of safe and secure council housing.

At the moment two national unions support us, but we want to get all the national unions affiliated. Individual trade union branches can also affiliate.

The campaign has to give hope to the next generation so that they can continue the fight for justice.

Grenfell has raised the question of institutional racism again, especially in the light of the Windrush scandal. We need to leave a legacy for social housing.

I think people in North Kensington recognise that Grenfell is not just about us—this could have happened, and could still happen, anywhere in the country.

Social housing tenants should be able to demand the right to live in decent and safe housing and not just be pushed out by gentrification.

The rights and the voices of social housing tenants being heard has to be a legacy that we leave.

We need to get rid of the Housing and Planning Act and replace it with something that reflects what ordinary working class people need—safe homes that are not overcrowded.

The Grenfell Tower fire and its aftermath has reflected the inequalities of class society.

We need to fight for justice in the here and now. And to address the gross inequality highlighted by Grenfell we also need to fight for a society where such class crimes are a thing of the past.

For updates from Justice4Grenfell go to @officialj4g on Twitter or Justice4Grenfell on Facebook

 


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