#ACandle4Grenfell

As some people are unable to attend the Silent March on Thursday 14th December, to show solidarity, support and unity, we ask that you join us in marking ‘6 Months’ by following these instructions:

  1. Please light a candle on the 14th December 2017.
  2. On a piece of paper, write ‘#ACandle4Grenfell’ and any other message or words you may want to share.
  3. Then take a photo of your message and post it on social media with the hashtags #ACandle4Grenfell & #SilentWalk
  4. Don’t forget to share your photo with Grenfell United (@grenfellunited) & Still I Rise GT (@Still_I_Rise_GT) on Twitter

“Grenfell – The Fight For Justice” by Brian Richardson

I vividly remember the June 14th 2017. I was working from home and the sun was flooding into my 6th floor flat on a beautiful, bright sunny day. In the adjoining block a mixed group of elders were enjoying a summer party.  I was impressed that the entertainer was able to switch effortlessly from Frank Sinatra to Bob Marley songs and judging by the smells wafting up, jerk chicken was being served up. These were the sights, sounds and smells of multicultural London at its best.

Just 8 miles away however a nightmare was unfolding. Grenfell Tower was still aflame. That morning I watched my friend Moyra Samuels explaining on BBC News how she watched the fire  spreading from her flat nearby on Bramley Road.  Over the course of 60 hours the homes of hundreds of people was transformed into a blackened tomb. The deaths of dozens of people was a consequence of the contempt that the rich and powerful leaders of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea have for the real multicultural London that Grenfell encapsulated.

In the minutes, hours, days and months since the first flame took hold we have seen the best of humanity. The way in which young black and Muslim men – so often maligned, marginalised and criminalised – struggled alongside firefighters to rescue and comfort residents was an example of the best. The way in which neighbours and friends rallied round, offering food, shelter, clothing and counselling is another. The impromptu memorial space and meeting spot by the Maxilla is a place of comfort and solidarity. The monthly Silent Marches are heartwarming, whilst the love and respect that was on display over Carnival weekend was inspirational.

But Grenfell also exposed the worst of humanity. Even before the tragedy, the contempt with which the council ignored those who demanded refurbishments was a disgrace.  The contempt with which they locked the town hall doors on those demanding answers in the days after was sheer cowardice and the subsequent sluggishness with which they have addressed people’s housing needs is an outrage. Meanwhile those sections of the media who are more interested in discrediting the fight for justice with stories about opportunists and bandwagon jumpers have brought shame upon their profession.

At the opening of the public inquiry I was, frankly disgusted by the arrogant expectation that those who had lost loved ones should rise to their feet in deference when Sir Martin Moore-Bick entered the room. He then strode out of the room immediately after delivering his opening address without allowing a single question to be asked.

That inquiry is only happening because the bereaved, local residents and their supporters have made it crystal clear that they want answers. I will never forget the angry and anguished calls for justice at the first community meeting I attended on the Saturday after the fire. Labour MP David Lammy whose family friend, 24 year old artist Khadija Saye, died in the fire was among those demanding corporate manslaughter charges.

What justice can this inquiry deliver? Families have been broken and lives lost forever.  There is an genuine fear among many that Moore-Bick’s deliberations will simply be a whitewash which will exonerate the guilty. This is an understandable concern and one which has been exacerbated by his refusal to appoint local residents or Black and Minority Ethnic people to the inquiry’s expert advisory panel. Nor has he granted core participant status to well rooted local activists and campaigns such as J4G.

A whitewash is by no means a foregone conclusion however.  Moreover we owe it to those who have died and to everyone who lives in tower blocks and social housing to fight for an outcome that exposes the truth, first and foremost about Grenfell, but also about the social cleansing that is such a repugnant feature of this divided country.

Moreover, we have allies who know how to fight for a modicum of justice. 2017 is also notable for the announcement that three former senior South Yorkshire police officers, that force’s then lawyer and the then secretary and safety officer of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club are now facing trial over the deaths of 96 Liverpool football fans at the 1989 FA Cup semi final. Why, because of the determination of the families and friends of the dead who formed the Hillsborough Justice Campaign and fought through thick and thin for 28 years.

The other great justice campaign of our times was the one waged by the family of Stephen Lawrence. Not only did it reveal the insensitive and incompetent police investigation into the black teenager’s murder in 1993, it also exposed the institutional racism that infects wider British society.

The families remained at the heart of these campaigns, but they sought and received the support of the wider community. Sympathetic investigative journalists helped keep their stories in the spotlight and they engaged lawyers who were fearless and adopted a community based approach to the legal proceedings.

The Grenfell justice campaign has already achieved a huge amount. The inquiry was announced within months, no doubt due to the public outcry.  The Hillsborough Justice Campaign, key trade unions such as the Fire Brigades Union, MPs, community campaigners and radical lawyers have  pledged their support and provided practical assistance.

The challenge in the year ahead will be to galvanise that support and ensure that we achieve an outcome that will be a fitting testament to those who perished, a comfort to those who survived and a safeguard for the future.

Brian Richardson is a barrister at Nexus Chambers, the chambers of Michael Mansfield QC.

Petition: Call on PM to take action to build public trust in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry

A petition has been created by Adel Chaoui. Please read the details below:

Bereaved families & survivors call on PM to exercise her powers under the Inquiries Act 2005 to appoint additional panel members with decision making power to sit alongside Chair in Grenfell Tower Inquiry: to ensure those affected have confidence in & are willing to fully participate in the Inquiry.

To secure trust in an establishment we feel has been distant & unresponsive, & to avoid a collapse of confidence in the Inquiry’s ability to discover the truth, it is fundamental that;
1. The Inquiry is not led by a judge alone. Panel members must be appointed with relevant background, expertise, experience, & a real understanding of the issues facing those affected
2. Legal representatives of bereaved families see all evidence from the start & are allowed to question witnesses at the hearings

To sign the petition, click here: Call on PM to take action to build public trust in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry

RISE: A Print Edition For J4G

RISE: A Print Edition For Justice4Grenfell
By Caroline Hick

Everyone has real turning points throughout their lives, where things just aren’t going to be the same again – what happened to Grenfell Tower was a big one for me.

A few years ago I chose to give up work to look after my lovely Mum who has Alzheimer’s. We came to live in Meanwood to be close to other members of our family. We are lucky – we are a close family. When I saw and read the news about Grenfell, I just couldn’t stop thinking about all those other families, who have been wiped out and devastated by a tragedy that could have been prevented.

We are living in extraordinary times! The image of Grenfell stands as a reminder of the death of a system that should be here to serve its people. We should be very sad for our society where our health and welfare are sold to the highest bidder, angry with a system that doesn’t support the most vulnerable and united in a hope that we can be part of the change that needs to happen.

This pair of prints is my way of trying to be part of that change. From a feeling of deep sadness for so many lives needlessly lost depicted in the first print (River of Tears) comes a call to action to make those lives lost count (Like a Phoenix). There is love in the design, the ink, the paper and the printing. The simple aim is to raise £5,000 from print sales to give to Justice4Grenfell, a community-led group established to obtain justice for all the residents of Grenfell Tower. As soon as the £5,000 target is reached, I will meet up with the group and hand over the funds personally – from one family member to another.

I hope you can help by spreading the word 🙂

Thanks, Caroline Hick

Please click below to see Caroline’s work:
“Rise: A print edition for Justice4Grenfell”

Solidarity – Darren Grady

‘Solidarity’ by Darren Grady

Getting ready for work.
I’m late.
Just another Wednesday.
Radio on, people saying “a fire that spread quickly”.
Must be overseas, probably a youth hostel.
Because in this country, we have safety regulations…

Later, the magnitude became clear walking across the Millennium Bridge…
A thick trail of smoke heavy on London’s skyline.

I was not directly impacted by Grenfell.
I’m not from the borough, or even London.
Born on Merseyside, Liverpool fan of over 45 years, we had our own tragedy, went through our own campaign for justice.
This article is not a vehicle for the Hillsborough campaign.
I just wanted to write something.
Display Solidarity.
I support, respect and identify with your campaign.
I get Justice for Grenfell.
Justice from the injustice.

Like Hillsborough, the victims are honoured and forever remembered yet sadly the parallels between these two tragic events are akin and both were avoidable.
History played a cruel trick of repeating herself.

I started working for a North Kensington Charity back in September.
One evening, walking back to the tube, I saw Grenfell.
I get Justice for Grenfell.
Justice from the injustice.

Justified anger runs just below the surface in this community, yet all I have witnessed has been compassion and solidarity.
The Authorities are suspiciously wise in hindsight but the foreboding outcome was not a premonition but a stark fact.
A fact repeatedly voiced, a fact repeatedly ignored and yet politicians continue to stress “this must never happen again” and “lessons learnt”.
However, it cannot be used to detract from those accountable being brought to justice for their basic failings in a duty of care.
Saving money but not saving lives.

You will face challenges, you will face setbacks but there are so many alongside you on this shared journey.

I get Justice for Grenfell.
Justice from the injustice.

By Darren Grady
“Darren lives in Essex and has worked in London for the past 25 years.
Born on Merseyside he left the UK aged 21 to travel and work all over the Caribbean.
He returned to the UK and held a number of roles in an “eclectic work history” and until July 2017, worked in the technology sector for a city based company when he quit his career to “give something back” and work in the NFP sector.
Grenfell effected Darren because of the unfortunate similarities in it, to that of the Hillsborough disaster.
Notably, at both tragedies, the authorities were noticeably absent, it was left to the fans and the local community to intervene and help.”

 

Music video project

As mentioned we are working with young people aged 11-19 on a music video project  around issues that are important to them and will be bringing them to Harrow Club on Friday to record in the studio at 2pm.  We are hoping  young people from the area will join us to show that young people from all over London can come together to have one voice in a powerful visual statement. We will be filming dance too and have permission/parental consent  forms available for those who want to take part.
The content of the song is being written by youth today, 15th August, and tomorrow, Wednesday 16th August. If anyone wants to join we are meeting at Southwark Lewisham college campus opposite Southwark station  12-4pm Tues-Thurs. We have a pineapple dance tutor creating a routine, vocal coaches and a drama coach and will be creating content for the track.
And please get permission from one of your parents/guardians with this online form

Ghosts of Grenfell

Lowkey, a North Kensington resident affected by the Grenfell disaster, brings the community together to call for justice with his latest release, Ghosts of Grenfell. Many of the local residents, key players in the community generated relief and support efforts, are featured in the accompanying video, demanding to know where are all those friends and neighbours who are still “missing”. Powerful, emotive, apposite.