Socialist Worker

‘It’s important they know we won’t go away’—Grenfell activists speak out at Downing Street

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2735

Protesting opposite Downing Street

Protesting opposite Downing Street (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Monday marked three and a half years since the Grenfell Tower fire. A speak out took place outside Downing Street to remember the 72 victims.

It also called for those in power to be held to account, because 42 months later the survivors, bereaved and those affected still do not have justice.

The event was organised by the Grenfell Community Campaigners, along with Grenfell United, Humanity for Grenfell, Grenfell Rise, Homes For All and the Fire Brigade Union (FBU).

Around 50 residents and activists gathered in heavy rain to call for a fightback. Chants of “Justice for Grenfell”, “End our cladding scandal—safer homes for all were aimed at Downing Street.

Organisers also dressed as bosses responsible for the fire, such as Boris Johnson and Robert Black—Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation head.

Protesters called for those responsible for the fire's toll to be jailed, chanting “blood on your hands” and “guilty”.

Leearna, a Grenfell Community Campaign organiser, told the crowd that the group has been protesting outside the inquiry because survivors and the bereaved are not allowed in.

Profit

“They’re using Covid-19 as an excuse”, she said. “It’s important they know we won’t go anywhere."

The event started with a 72-second silence, followed by the names of the dead being read.

The memorial also included a silence and dedication to Clarrie Mendy, “an incredible fighter” and “pillar of the community” who campaigned for Grenfell and who died earlier this month.

Nick Burton, a survivor who lived on the 19th floor of the tower told the crowd, “My wife and I were rescued, but my wife passed away shortly after, making her the 72nd victim.

“In the inquiry corporations are admitting to lying and putting profit over people.

“There’s been no arrests, and no one is in prison. Mass corporations don’t tell the truth and the government is protecting them.

“These companies are still making money. It should be seized. It’s blood money. They knew the game they were playing, and they burnt our loved ones to death.

Kensington and Chelsea—a tale of two cities
Kensington and Chelsea—a tale of two cities
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“Arconic’s product is on thousands of tower blocks across the world. This is a problem on a global scale.

“We’ve got to keep fighting to expose these people.”

A van demanding Arocnic's presence at the inquiry also drove round the speak out.

Jon Wharnsby, a firefighter on duty the night of the fire and FBU rep, agreed that those responsible must be held to account. He said, “We can only win when we stand united in solidarity.

Accident

“The people culpable are not being held to account. Lethal cost-cutting meant profit was put before lives.”

Speakers agreed that the class and race of residents meant those in power cared less for their lives.

“People in Downing Street and parliament want us to believe Grenfell was an accident. But we all knew Grenfell was an accident waiting to happen because of a toxic mix of austerity and institutional racism,” Nadia from Stand Up to Racism said.

“We’re not giving up the fight until we have justice”, Moyra, from Grenfell Community Campaign, added.

“Grenfell Rise is demanding the public inquiry includes institutional racism.

“We as residents in North Kensington know that this would not have happened to a tower in Chelsea. What is the point in the inquiry if they don’t realise what impact their decision has?”

Glyn Robbins from Homes For All said that “Grenfell two is in the post”.

“Hundreds of blocks around the country have flammable material putting people at risk every day and night.

“The people in Downing Street who set up the Grenfell inquiry guaranteed they would remove all dangerous cladding and three and a half years later that has not happened.

“Unless we change the culture around construction and social housing then more Grenfells will happen.”

Karim Mussilhy, deputy chair of Grenfell United, closed the speak out.

“The crooked companies profiting from our money don’t want to get involved in our safety,” he said.

“We won’t be silent. We’ll keep talking about Grenfell. It’s never bringing our families back, but we can make sure it never happens again.”


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