On Thursday evening, ITN broadcast a report on Fire Safety in RBKC.
Rags Martel speaks with Stephen Mackenzie, a Fire Safety Expert and Judy Bolton, a resident of Kensal House on the ongoing failures of the Council and KCTMO.
This week commemorates 46 years since the Bogside Massacre, often referred to as Bloody Sunday – in which British Soldiers killed unarmed civilians.
A week of talks, events and open mic sessions concludes today with a march, which has become Ireland’s “largest annual human rights event”.
Joe Delaney, a Grenfell Survivor and member of the Grenfell Action Group, spoke on a panel, named “We Shall Overcome: The Patronising Disposition of Unaccountable Power”. He spoke alongside Becky Shah of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, Suresh Grover of the London-based Monitoring Group and Stafford Scott, co-founder of the Broadwater Farm Defence Campaign in 1985, who is now a consultant on racial equality & community engagement.
A petition has been created by Clarrie Mendy. Please read details the below:
The Bishop’s review of Hillsborough families’ experiences recommends the creation of a Charter for Families Bereaved through Public Tragedy. The Government must implement this recommendation. This petition was started by bereaved relatives of family members who perished in the Grenfell Tower fire.
The Charter will include commitments by public bodies to change in relation to transparency and acting in the public interest. By adopting this, the Government will show that it has learned the lessons of the Hillsborough disaster and ensure that the perspective of bereaved families is never lost. We’re concerned that the Grenfell public inquiry isn’t taking into account the views of bereaved families, survivors, and local community affected. They can be spared the indignities, pain and suffering Bishop James Jones describes in his report as “The Patronising disposition of unaccountable power”.
To sign the petition, click here: Create a Charter for Families Bereaved through Public Tragedy
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:
- Please light a candle on the 14th December 2017.
- On a piece of paper, write ‘#ACandle4Grenfell’ and any other message or words you may want to share.
- Then take a photo of your message and post it on social media with the hashtags #ACandle4Grenfell & #SilentWalk
- Don’t forget to share your photo with Grenfell United (@grenfellunited) & Still I Rise GT (@Still_I_Rise_GT) on Twitter
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.
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 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”