By Isabel Ringrose
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Silent Walk for Grenfell demands justice on five-year anniversary

Marchers were angry that there has been no justice for survivors and families five years after the Grenfell fire
Issue 2809
A crowd shot of people marching for Grenfell, they carry placards and wear green clothing

The march demands justice for Grenfell (Picture: Guy Smallman)

On the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell fire, around 4,000 people joined a Silent Walk to remember the 72 dead and demand justice. The march on Tuesday—now held on every 14 June and 14 December to mark the fire—met at the base of the tower in west London. 

For the first time, the borders surrounding it were opened to allow mourners to stand in the grounds. After the march around Ladbroke Grove, Grenfell United—the bereaved and survivor’s group—held speeches. They focussed on the 18 children who were killed, and the strength of the children growing up in the traumatic aftermath.

Towards the end of the march, some broke out into chants of “Justice for Grenfell”. And the walk included an emotional guard of honour of firefighters, organised by the FBU union, who were met with loud applause.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack told Socialist Worker that the fire has had “a huge emotional impact” on firefighters. “Politically, there has been a very clear attempt of divide and rule. I think it’s from the heart of government.”

“We’re clear that ultimately the responsibility for this lies with the government and politicians. We had some sharp exchanges with the inquiry—it’s back to front. They should have looked at causation before what happened on the night.”

Wrack said he has “been frustrated with the way the press has almost entirely ignored what’s been exposed in Phase Two” of the inquiry. 

Wrack said, “Our members who gave evidence were notable for how frank and honest they were compared with people from corporate backgrounds. Especially those who didn’t want to turn up, demanded immunity, dodged questions, evaded things or lost their notebooks—that’s a staggering contrast.”

People held placards that read, “Tories have blood on their hands—justice for Grenfell,” and Grenfell United signs with evidence from the inquiry. One placard said, “Grenfell and Rwanda, same struggle versus institutional racism.” 

Local people also lined the streets to join the anniversary. Rapper Lowkey told the crowd in a spoken word piece after the march, “This government had five years to make amends. They depicted us as simpletons and criminals, hundreds of thousands of people in houses just not liveable. And the companies still remain invisible, are they invincible? 

“Where deregulation meets regeneration, that’s a nail in the coffin for three generations. You can tell Boris Johnson he’s a pitiful pretender—72 is a figure that Eric Pickles should remember.

“They want us fighting each other so we don’t focus on them, the corporation has no body to punish and no soul to condemn. There’s something unnatural when 18 children die, helicopter hovering but it’s their screams that fill the sky. 

“Can the system give us justice or does it lack the will to try? It’s five years and not one executive is inside. This is a message to the government and I bet it gets through—you arrest them or we arrest you.”

Karim, deputy chair of Grenfell United said, “I can’t help but think about the kids that we lost. They will never fulfil their destinies or dreams, and we’re no closer to justice than we were in the early days.

“What have we learnt? That the government does not care about you or us. They never cared and never will. What happened here wasn’t a freak accident, it was an easily preventable thing that they allowed to happen. The issues that have arisen from Grenfell now affect all of us.”

Activists with banners from local Unison and CWU union branches, Stand Up to Racism and Homes for All also joined the march. Morag from Homes for All told Socialist Worker, “The Tories put profits before people’s safety. There were warnings by Grenfell tenants for years, especially from disabled residents. 

“Housing needs to be in the public sector. We need a mass campaign for houses to be requisitioned and empty homes to be filled. Homes for All is fighting for Grenfell because it is central to the ongoing fight for housing justice and safety.”

The fight for justice, as well as for safer homes for all working class people, has to be at the forefront of the battle against the Tories.

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