Grenfell disaster survivor imprisoned, guilty Conservatives free

This 31 Mei 2019 video from Britain says about itself:

Voices of Grenfell | Full Panel Discussion | Oxford Union

Over a year since the Grenfell Tower fire, many survivors continue to live in temporary accommodation. The destruction of the tower and its aftermath have shown that safety comes at a certain price, making the social divide between those who can afford to pay this price and those who cannot more apparent than ever.

In particular, the fire has revealed the urgency of its survivors having a greater voice and stronger representation. The Grenfell Tower Inquiry was launched the day after the tragedy but has been critiqued for failing to adequately address the concerns of the aggrieved.


Inês Alves – Grenfell Tower fire survivor
Tiago Alves – Grenfell Tower fire survivor
Zeyad Cred – Silent March organiser
Michael Perkins – Community Organiser
Reis Morris

ABOUT THE OXFORD UNION SOCIETY: The Oxford Union is the world’s most prestigious debating society, with an unparalleled reputation for bringing international guests and speakers to Oxford. Since 1823, the Union has been promoting debate and discussion not just in Oxford University, but across the globe.

By the Socialist Equality Party in Britain:

Free Reis Morris! Grenfell Tower campaigner imprisoned while those guilty of social murder walk free

8 June 2019

The Socialist Equality Party condemns the imprisonment of Grenfell justice campaigner Reis Morris. His jailing is a vicious act of class justice aimed at suppressing opposition and protecting those responsible for 72 deaths in the Grenfell Tower inferno.

The two-month sentence handed down against Morris on May 31 is especially vindictive as he will remain behind bars on the second anniversary of a fire that claimed a member of his family.

As the June 14 anniversary approaches and with anger at boiling point, the London Metropolitan Police announced yesterday that in nearly 24 months, just 13 people have been “interviewed under caution”. Not a single person has been charged for the devastating inferno, despite a mountain of evidence proving criminal culpability by the rich and powerful. This includes those heading the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council, its tenant management arm, and major corporations that manufactured and installed flammable cladding that turned Grenfell into a death trap.

A petition started by local residents demanding Morris’s immediate release has already won more than 1,000 signatures, while the hashtag #IAmReisMorris is gathering support on Twitter.

Morris, a 29-year-old father, was charged over an incident in which he confronted London Fire Brigade site manager Matthew Hogan over the condition of materials used to cover the burnt-out ruins of Grenfell. Morris demanded to know why his repeated complaints and queries had not been addressed.

It is alleged that Morris put his hands round Hogan’s throat, saying, “I can keep on squeezing”. Yet this account is denied by eyewitnesses who have stated that Morris never touched Hogan. The prosecution’s own lawyers admitted Morris’s actions were nothing more than “a warning” born of frustration. They told the court that Reis “did not cause him pain or suffocation.” The two men had “mended their grievances”.

Morris’s defence solicitor Martin Davidson said in court, “Mr Morris grew up in the shadow of Grenfell. He knew some of the deceased. He is a very active campaigner but tensions ran overboard.”

Such mitigating factors counted for nothing as Magistrate Lillian Ibbett told Morris she had “no choice” but to impose a custodial sentence due to a previous suspended sentence.

That suspended sentence was also related to the ongoing state cover-up at Grenfell. At a vigil in 2017 to mark 100 days since the fire, Morris had confronted then deputy leader of the Tory-dominated RBKC, Kim Taylor-Smith. A despised figure due to his arrogance and contempt for residents, Taylor-Smith was shouted down as he tried to make a speech. As he left, Morris confronted him, demanding the councillor “look [him] in the eyes.” He told Taylor-Smith, “You have got eight weeks to sort this out, then I’m coming for you, I don’t care if I spend the rest of my life in prison.”

Taylor-Smith and his pampered cronies did nothing to provide for the needs of a traumatised, frustrated and angry community, but he did find time to report Morris to the police. Within a fortnight, Morris had been arrested, charged and convicted. He was sentenced to a 12-month community order—later increased to a six-week suspended sentence—plus 110 hours of unpaid work. In a final insult, he was ordered to pay £85 towards prosecution costs and £100 to Taylor-Smith.

That suspended sentence has now been activated, with another two weeks’ imprisonment added for the latest incident. Morris must also pay £100 costs and is banned from going to the Grenfell Tower site.

When Morris confronted Hogan in April, Conservative Housing Minister Kit Malthouse was admitting to parliament that 15 households from the Tower were still without permanent accommodation. Six households were in emergency accommodation, two in hotels, three in serviced apartments, and another was living “with family or friends.”

Morris’s imprisonment has been met with justifiable outrage.

Under the hashtag #IAmReisMorris. EmmaLuna tweeted, “So you can imprison so readily, one of our traumatised community who has suffered huge loss & yet those complicit in #Grenfell atrocity #RockFieldingMellen; #GavinBarwell; #RobertBlack & so on, can just be left untouched by law that just keeps delaying.”

Yasmeen Arden tweeted, “It’s almost as if they are focusing on turning our powerful good community into the ‘bad guys’ rather than turning their attention on the actual bad guys who are busy living the millionaire lifestyle built on the lives of our people!”

And from Rupinder Hardy, “I was a responder during from day 3 of #Grenfell & the most organised, supportive, passionate, collaborative people I met were all the ‘Reis’ from Latimer. They were the glue that held things together. They were critical & hold an esteemed position in my view #IamReisMorris.”

Morris is an outspoken fighter for residents at the Lancaster West Housing Estate. Earlier this year he told an Oxford Union meeting that he had taken on the role of activist “as a necessity” “to never let anything like that happen again.” “Injustice,” he said, “relies on ignorance… You can’t help what you don’t understand.”

In 2018, Morris appeared in the powerful documentary Failed by the State: The Struggle in the Shadow of Grenfell. He told filmmakers Daniel Renwick and Ish, “It’s clear now there was no justice… I know people that didn’t make it out, so it’s rage. It’s back to rage.”

If social anger and distress is boiling over into individual acts of frustration, then responsibility rests solely at the feet of all those parties and leaders who have helped orchestrate a two-year cover-up for the guilty.

At the centre of this cover-up has been the government’s official Grenfell Inquiry.

The first stage of the inquiry has been postponed yet again—until the end of this year—confirming that it was never aimed at bringing justice or establishing the truth.

On Thursday, Labour MP Emma Dent Coad spoke in parliament condemning Morris’s imprisonment. Reis was “a friend to many,” she said. “Is it right to punish this moment of fury with imprisonment?” she asked, before recommending that he be freed “at least so he can attend a memorial event on Friday week.”

Dent Coad knows that her parliamentary colleagues are sitting on a social volcano. …

Daniel Renwick, co-director of Failed by the State, told the WSWS, “Reis is not alone. Though he has often acted in ways that go above and beyond others, he has acted for the dead, the survivors and the community who know that power must be forced into delivering justice. He is a dear friend of mine and many and it hurts us all that he is denied liberty, especially when he has acted righteously. Those who lied—the accuser and the journalists who mythologised in order to criminalise—will have to answer for themselves.”

Renwick concluded: “My friend will be free soon enough, but every day he is denied the right to see his children is a violation. When justice is denied it is taken. Hopefully the state will see—through the solidarity that has emerged—that they cannot pick off the radical members of the community one by one, and that we stand together in this fight for justice. It’s sickening that those responsible for mass death walk free, while a man who stood up for his community is behind bars. But this dynamic will be reversed and every injustice has been catalogued. We will seek redress and we will never stop fighting until those responsible are punished and our state has changed enough to prevent anything like this happening again.”

The Socialist Equality Party and Grenfell Fire Forum demand that Reis Morris be freed immediately and that those responsible for social murder at Grenfell arrested and charged.

The billions of pounds daily squandered on the selfish whims of the filthy rich must be confiscated and used to provide for the social rights of the working class. This includes an emergency program to build high quality and genuinely affordable housing for all Grenfell survivors and the immediate requisitioning of vacant properties across London to end the homelessness crisis.

German art students protest against neo-fascism

This video from the USA says about itself:

Degenerate Art – 1993, The Nazis vs. Expressionism

This is a documentary from 1993 by David Grubin (written, produced, and directed) about the art exhibit under the Nazi regime of what they considered to be the most corrupting and corrosive examples of what they called ‘Entartete Kunst’ or ‘Degenerate Art‘.

The exhibit, which opened in July of 1937, was meant to be laughed at and despised.

I ran across it in a class on Modernism and Post-Modernism. The film is not generally available at the time of this writing (other than on VHS). Personally, I could think of no better backdrop for the ideas and pathos of expressionist art than Nazi Germany, shown by a great deal of actual footage (most provided by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art — they had an exhibit of their own based on the event that same year).

The music is similarly striking, including Schoenberg, Hindemith, and Wagner. All of the art shown, by the way, is referenced by name in the end credits, which I include.

By Martin Nowak in Germany:

Students at Dresden School of Art protest against the far-right AfD

8 June 2019

Students at the Dresden School of Art (Hochschule für bildende Künste, HfBK) protested last week against the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). The students expressed their opposition to “the creeping acceptance of right-wing content” and demanded that the university management make clear its adherence to the principle of artistic freedom and its opposition to right-wing extremism.

The HfBK, founded in 1764, is one of the oldest and most renowned universities in Germany. Its reputation is inextricably linked to outstanding artists such as Otto Dix, George Grosz, Oskar Kokoschka, Conrad Felixmüller, and other socially committed, antimilitarist, and socialist artists of the early 20th century.

The trigger for the protests was the candidacy of the library director Barbara Lenk for the AfD in a local election in nearby Meissen. Students occupied the library for a day on May 29 and put up banners pointing out the incompatibility of freedom of art and education with the program of the AfD. “HfBK or AfD—you cannot have both,” read one banner hanging from the window of the university.

Other banners drew attention to the long-standing hostility of the AfD and its affiliated Pegida movement towards artists. One of the AfD’s recent election posters demanded: “Not a penny for politically motivated art,” and its state election program makes clear that this refers to all art that does not promote the nationalist, racist, homophobic and other reactionary views of the neofascist party.

The draft of the AfD program states: “Culture must not be a playground for sociocultural clientele politics.” The program draft accuses theatres in the state of Saxony of practicing “a one-sided politically oriented, educational music and speech theatre.” Against this background, the fears of students and the demands they raised are absolutely justified. As it itself proclaims, the AfD is motivated by the fact that many artists and cultural institutions in Dresden have expressed support for cultural tolerance in general and immigrants and refugees specifically, as well as opposition to racism and nationalism.

The protest is not only directed against the far-right views of the AfD. University students fear for their own safety. Dresden student representative Madlyn Sauer told German radio (Deutschlandfunk Kultur) that the library director has “access to the sensitive data of students and employees, via addresses, e-mail addresses, mobile phones. And given that there are a number of politically active students, as well as students from a different cultural background whom the AfD regard as their enemies, we are of course very worried as to whether she can be really trusted with the data.”

After calling a general meeting, 300 students voted to occupy the library. Following discussions with the university management, the occupation ended on the same afternoon. The university management agreed to the demand by students to publicise a declaration by the student council on the HfBK website.

The declaration expressed concern about “movements and opinions which have been developed and promoted in particular in the Free State of Saxony… We cannot leave uncommented events such as those which took place in Chemnitz and the continuous slogans of the (far-right) PEGIDA.” The statement continues, “As more and more links are revealed between the ruling executive in the state and the legislature, we fear restrictions on our freedom and work in this election year.” Elections in Saxony are to be held later this year.

Further talks between the university leadership and students have been agreed. In the meantime, the students have announced further actions, such as flash mobs, video projects, and research into the history of the university during the period of the Nazis, which, much like AfD, attacked what Hitler called “degenerate art”.

Comments expressed by the university rector, Matthias Flügge, make clear, however, that the students at the HfBK face an uphill struggle. The press release by the university leadership stresses its supposed “political neutrality”. Party political commitment on the part of employees is not the concern of the university management unless “it is certain that the party in question is anti-constitutional.” According to Flügge, the head of the university library is “an outstanding employee. On this basis, I stand behind her and will not tolerate bullying.” The fact that Flügge “as a person takes a very different political path is a completely different matter.”

Chancellor Jochen Beißert told Deutschlandfunk that he had made clear in an interview with Barbara Lenk that her candidacy for the AfD candidacy was her right, but that she had to assure her office’s “neutrality and, of course, defend the liberal-democratic constitution.”

In other words, the university administration considers the AfD to be legitimate up until the point that Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the BfV, classifies it as “anti-constitutional”. But the BfV is itself closely involved with far-right networks. This is confirmed by a glimpse at the recently published intelligence agency report for the state of Saxony. The report fails to identify either the AfD or Pegida as far-right organisations. They are only mentioned in the report as the victims of left-wing extremists.

On the other hand, the antifascist punk band Feine Sahne Fischfilet, which played at the “Rock against the Right Wing” concert, following a neo-Nazi march in Chemnitz, is branded in the report as “left-wing extremist”. The secret service report goes so far as to denounce the concert for providing a platform to left-wing extremists.

The right-wing extremist blog Tichy’s Insight, which claims to be directed towards the country’s “liberal-conservative elite” celebrated the stance taken by the leadership of the HfBK. “The rector, the chancellor, and the library commissioner, regardless of their personal political beliefs, all stood behind Lenk,” the fascist publication boasted. The blog then accused students of promoting “ideological terror” and declared that their criticism of the AfD candidacy by the head of the library amounted to “slander, coercion, extortion and, ultimately, defamation.”

The events at the HfBK in Dresden confirm that the AfD and right-wing extremist ideologies are being protected at German universities. The events in Dresden resemble the response to the Trotskyist youth and student organisation, the IYSSE, at Berlin’s Humboldt University after it criticised the right-wing extremist historian Jörg Baberowski. Baberowski, who seeks to relative the crimes of Hitler and the Third Reich and promotes German imperialism, has been sheltered by Humboldt, while the IYSSE has been censured.

Nigerians fight against pangolin poaching

This 4 June 2019 video says about itself:

Nigerians Fight to Protect the World’s Most Trafficked Mammal | National Geographic

Pangolins are believed to be the most trafficked mammals in the world.

As the four Asian species of pangolins have dwindled, poachers are increasingly turning to the African species to supply the trade. In this short film, meet the bold Nigerians who are fighting to protect this gentle and vulnerable creature.

Women’s football World Cup, with brass band

This music video shows Dutch brass band ‘t Spul(t) from Zutphen city playing during the 2017 women’s football European championship in the Netherlands, won by the Dutch team. They wear orange shirts, like the national team football players.

The Dutch NOS TV reports today that they will also be present at the women’s football World Cup in France at the Dutch team’s matches. The first one will be this Tuesday afternoon, against New Zealand, in Le Havre.

Among the songs they play are Happy by Pharrell Williams and Sweet Child O’Mine by Guns ‘N Roses.

Brass band 't Spult, photo Eline de Zeeuw/NOS