Some 2,000 people joined the Grenfell silent walk on Monday—the four year anniversary of the fire that killed 72 on 14 June 2017.
It is the first silent walk organised by Grenfell United, the campaign group of the survivors and bereaved, that has happened since the pandemic hit. And it took place with a large turnout despite restrictions limiting its size.
Marchers gathered outside the tower block in North Kensington, London and heard a bell ring 72 times.
The roads were filled with green—the colour of the Grenfell campaign—as marchers carried scarfs, placards and large hearts.
On the route, the FBU firefighters’ union set up a guard of honour of firefighters in a tribute. After the walk, the names of the victims of the fire were read out.
Grenfell campaigner Moyra told the crowd, “Hearing all the names four years on is heart-breaking for many of us.
“Seeing all of you here I hope can send a message that we are going to come back together and we’re going to keep fighting.”
Moyra noted that the anniversary happened during a pandemic that has made people realise “like so many of us realised after Grenfell, whose lives actually matter.”
And she demanded that the companies Kingspan, Celotex, Arconic and Rydon, whose deadly materials were put on Grenfell despite the dangers, “are banned from ever working”.
“We want to demand that we have change, that we get rid of the corrupt construction industry.
“And those people, whether or not they’re down the road, in Downing Street or part of big corporate companies, are held accountable and prosecuted for the needless deaths,” Moyra added.
“We want justice, we want prosecutions, and we want change.”
And local rapper Lowkey said in a spoken poem, “We will not betray the dead.
“The government doesn’t seem very worried about giving justice to us. They should be worried about the justice we give to them.
“We find them guilty of facilitating social murder. We find the corporations guilty of corporate manslaughter.
“We will get justice.”
Lowkey spoke about how the Arconic factory in Birmingham was shut down on Monday by Palestine Action.
Arconic made the flammable cladding that the first phase of the inquiry found to be the primary reason the fire spread.
Karim is the deputy chair of Grenfell United whose uncle died in the fire. “Millions are being spent on a public inquiry, but the recommendations now kicked into the long grass,” he added. “Witness after witness who suffers amnesia claiming they don’t recall or recollect.”
Karim said, “The struggle to pursue the justice we deserve is exhausting, but we do it because we have to.
“Thousands of homes are still unsafe, and lobbyists have ensured that the system protects the corrupt. We are seeing how rigged this world is, how enforcement of regulations simply does not exist.
“We have seen how the crooks and killers from Celotex, Kingspan and Arconic gained regulations—criminal frauds with murderous consequences.” This was meant with furious cries of, “They knew”.
Karim concluded by calling for safe homes and evacuation plans for disabled residents in towers. “We want to see the corruption, corporate greed and criminal negligence punished by law,” he said.
The anniversary ended with chants of “Justice”.
Elsewhere in Liverpool, Manchester and Milton Keynes housing campaigners held vigils to mark the anniversary. As well as in London in Barking, Elephant and Castle, Tower Hamlets and Haringey.
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry continues to reveal shocking truths behind the fire.
The Tories, the companies involved in the refurbishment of Grenfell and Kensington and Chelsea council must be held to account for the blood on their hands.