Socialist Worker

Firefighters join angry march to demand justice for Grenfell

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2609

On the march in London

On the march in London (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Some 2,000 people marched from Downing Street to the Home Office on Saturday to demand justice for those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire.

The march came after the anniversary of the fire on Thursday, which saw well over 5,000 march through North Kensington for the monthly Silent Walk.

“We need to continue to get out in the streets,” marcher Hiyam told Socialist Worker. “I knew people who used to live in that tower.”

Her friend Yasmin said, “We just want justice.”

Those responsible for the fire are trying to escape scrutiny by blaming others. The latest targets have been firefighters, who were out in force on Saturday’s demonstration.

Grenfell Action Group member Joe Delaney told the crowd, “Individual firefighters did not close North Kensington Fire Station. They did not push through the cuts.”

One firefighter on the demo argued there needs to be resistance against the arguments coming from the right. “We shouldn’t criticise people who were there on the night.

“The blame lies overwhelmingly with the people responsible for the refurbishment.”

FBU union general secretary Matt Wrack gave his solidarity to those fighting for justice. He said next time every union should be there and that protests should “bring the city to a halt”.

People are not falling for the lies pushed by some in the media, such as the London Review of Books’ Andrew O’Hagan.

Unequal

Moyra Samuels is from Justice4Grenfell, which organised the demo with the FBU. She said the fire was the result of an “unequal society”. She vowed to keep on fighting and to maintain the pressure on the Tories.

Others pointed to how the downgrading of council housing made Grenfell inevitable.

“30 years of cuts and privatisation turned our homes into death traps,” said Eileen Short from the Defend Council Housing campaign. “It was because of political decisions.”

“We are not going away. We are not going to believe their crocodile tears. We are going to demand real action.”

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said, “We will house people. A million new homes and a half of them council homes.”

Labour policy is to build 500,000 social homes, which includes housing associations.

McDonnell told Socialist Worker that “where possible these will be built by councils using direct labour organisations”.

Hiyam pointed to the greed of the people behind the refurbishment of the tower, which saw a cheaper form of cladding used. And protester Isabell added, “The more noise we make, the more likely we are to get action.


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