Three Grenfell Billboards Outside Parliament, London

The Grenfell billboards near Parliament, photo credit Justice 4 Grenfell

By Sam Wolfson in London, England, Feb 15 2018, 5:32pm:

Grenfell Campaigners Park Three Billboards Outside Parliament

They read: “71 DEAD“, “AND STILL NO ARRESTS?”, “HOW COME?”

Eight months after a fire tore through Grenfell Tower, killing at least 71 people, campaigners have parked three billboards calling for justice outside the Houses of Parliament.

In a nod to Martin McDonagh‘s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, each of the three signs makes up a part of the campaigners’ message: “71 DEAD”, “AND STILL NO ARRESTS?”, “HOW COME?”

Speaking to VICE, Yvette Williams, an organiser from campaign group Justice 4 Grenfell, said, “The reaction has been incredible, we’ve driven everywhere. People have been so supportive, which is exactly what we want – to keep Grenfell in people’s minds.”

Williams said that members of the campaign group were fans of the film and its message about demanding justice from authorities. They worked with an advertising agency to create the billboards, which have been driven around all day from the tower in west London up to Parliament. When VICE spoke to Williams, she was in the cab of one of the vans, driving through Hyde Park.

Williams says the group’s biggest fear is that people will forget about Grenfell before justice has been served: “We were told that even as the public inquiry is ongoing, there was going to be an interim report by Easter. Now that’s not happening. We want the truth. We want prosecutions. People up and down the country need to feel safe in their homes. None of that is happening. We think they’re playing with time, hoping that the story will be downplayed.”

Williams says they have a number of demands, chief among them the prosecution of those responsible, housing for those made homeless and the removal of dangerous cladding from other buildings. “We need the state of social housing to be part of the public inquiry – otherwise the same thing is just going to happen again. Change only comes from action.”

The Justice4Grenfell group was formed by survivors of the tragedy and members of the local community, with the goal of holding “all responsible authorities and individuals to account”.

Today, they posted some stark facts about government inaction since the fire on their website: “Eight months on from the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower, the issue is being ignored. 71 people died in the Grenfell Tower. And still no arrests. And still 297 flammable towers. And still hundreds of survivors are homeless. And still they are not represented on the inquiry. And still there is no justice.”

In July, the Metropolitan Police published a letter which claimed there were “reasonable grounds” to suspect that Kensington and Chelsea council, and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation that managed the tower block, could be found guilty of corporate manslaughter.

That was followed in August by an interview given by the director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, who said that “gross negligence manslaughter” was one of the offences that prosecutors will consider if there is sufficient evidence.

Then, in December, in the opening session of the public inquiry into the disaster, Jeremy Johnson QC, representing the Metropolitan Police, repeated that charges of criminal offences of manslaughter and corporate manslaughter were being considered.

Despite these comments, no one responsible for the disaster has been arrested or charged so far.

I put it to Williams that the police may feel like they need more time to collect evidence before they can make arrests. “We’re not asking to rush things. We want a thorough criminal investigation”, she said. “However, if you or I had a hand in burning downing Grenfell, we would have been brought in for questioning a long time ago. We’d probably be sitting on remand or on the way to Wormwood Scrubs.

“We know who had a hand in it – why are these people still living their normal lifestyle? The disparity between what would happen to you or I during a criminal investigation, and what happens to elected officials… Their priority has been to check the immigration status of survivors and prosecute a fraudster, rather than looking at what happened here and who’s responsible.”

The Grenfell billboards mirror the ones Frances McDormand’s character erects in the Three Billboards film after she becomes frustrated with the police investigation into her daughter’s murder. In the movie she puts up three billboards on the edge of a small town that read “RAPED WHILE DYING”, “AND STILL NO ARRESTS?”, “HOW COME CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?”

I ask Williams whether, like in the film, the billboards have created a quick response from the authorities. She says they haven’t heard anything new today from the police or the council, “but there’s such a powerful line in that film – she says, ‘The more you keep a case in the public eye, the better your chances of getting it solved.’ So we’ll continue to keep the case in the public eye.”

See also here.

Pro-Grenfell disaster survivors marches, London, Manchester

This video from London, England says about itself:

400 people join silent march to mark 2 months since Grenfell

15 August 2017

“This happened on Theresa May‘s watch” says one of the people who joined a silent march to mark 2 months since the Grenfell Tower fire. Locals, survivors and families of those who died in the blaze walked in the march.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Friday, 9 February 2018

London/Manchester joint Grenfell march

THE FIGHT for justice for every single man, woman and child who died in the Grenfell Tower and their families and the survivors who are still languishing in hotels almost eight months after the tragic fire is now spreading across the nation.

For the first time, next Wednesday, Manchester and London will march in tandem, with a silent march in North Kensington, London, coordinated with a silent march through central Manchester.

Since the tragedy on 14 June, protesters have held monthly silent marches near the Kensington site and with each march the deep-rooted anger, at the council, the government and the Tenants Management Organisation (TMO), has increased. Every month, the numbers grow. Last month, there were thousands on the streets.

Hundreds of survivors from the tower and the immediate buildings are still languishing in temporary accommodation, despite promises to fast-track them into new homes.

The march through Manchester will include a silent candlelit procession led by 71 people – each carrying a placard bearing the photo of someone who died. This will be followed by a minute’s silence and speeches in Piccadilly Gardens.

Kevin Allsop, who has organised the event for trades union association GMATUC, said: ‘We wanted to show our support to the people of Grenfell and hope that other cities will then pick up the baton and do something similar on the anniversary of the fire, on 14 June.’

Joe Delaney, a Grenfell survivor whose low-rise block is connected to the tower, will attend the march. He is still living in a hotel almost two miles away from home. According to Kensington and Chelsea Council, 248 households continue to reside in their homes on the Lancaster West Estate, of which the tower is part, while 66 households are in emergency hotel accommodation.

On the night of the fire, he left his home without any belongings – other than his two dogs – after spending hours helping to raise the alarm and evacuate neighbours.

It took four days of fighting with the local authority for him to be offered emergency accommodation – during which time he and his neighbour, who has a toddler, were forced to stay with one of his friends.

He said: ‘People have no trust in Kensington Borough Council. The police recovery teams are still working next to my flat and the council still hasn’t shown evidence that the building is fire-safe, eight months on.

‘This safety issue is bigger than Grenfell though. This is a national issue – there are blocks across the country with unsafe cladding still on, and where it has been removed residents are freezing.

‘The protections for tenants in this country are appalling and no matter which party is in government, little seems to change. Safety should not be seen as an undue burden. How dare they!’

The event begins at 6.15pm on 14 February at the junction of Market Street and Cross Street in central Manchester while the silent march in North Kensington begins at 5.30pm outside Kensington Town Hall, Hornton St, Kensington, London W8 7NX.

British Conservative government deporting Grenfell disaster survivors?

This 16 June 2017 video from London, England is called Justice for Grenfell protest outside Downing Street, May Must Go.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Grenfell Tower survivors could be deported within hours as immigration amnesty expires

Exclusive: In letter to Home Secretary, seen by The Independent, Labour warns threat of deportation could have serious impact on outcome of public inquiry

Lucy Pasha-Robinson

Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire could be deported within hours as the deadline to apply for the Government’s immigration amnesty expires, it has emerged.

Residents of the tower block who did not have leave to remain in the country at the time of June’s fire were offered a 12-month amnesty by the Home Office, in a much-publicised move following criticism of the Government’s role in the tragedy.

But a less well-documented condition of the offer imposed a deadline of 31 January to apply for the amnesty.

While the Home Office insists anyone applying after the deadline has elapsed will still be considered for leave “outside of the immigration rules”, the revelation has prompted fears the public inquiry could be deprived of key testimony if certain survivors are forced to leave the country.

Separately, it is understood families of some survivors could lose their right to remain in the UK within weeks, including a relative of one disabled survivor who has been looking after them since losing their partner in the blaze.

Families of those affected by the fire, which claimed 71 lives, were granted a maximum of six months’ leave to remain to “provide ongoing support” to their loved ones.

Community groups from the area called the policy “shocking” and “inhuman”, expressing grave concerns that survivors’ quest for justice was not being put at the heart of the inquiry.

Labour is now calling for urgent reassurances to be made to survivors who have not yet come forward – and to families granted short-term visas – that they will not face deportation.

The party has warned the policy could have a serious impact on the outcome of the public inquiry, which will aim to establish the causes of the fire, if survivors are too scared to participate and their families are not able to support them.

In a letter addressed to the Home Secretary, seen by The Independent, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott called for a “deadline-free arrangement” to be extended to all survivors.

The exact number affected by the policy is unknown, but Ms Abbott said it was likely to be a small enough number that the Government could make allowances.

Moyra Samuels, local resident and campaign coordinator for Justice4Grenfell, said it was “outrageous” a complete amnesty had not been offered.

“Right in the middle of this atrocity, what we’ve seen is an anti immigrant narrative – that was there before Grenfell – but here we have another example where you would think given what had happened some compassion and sensitivity would be shown, but instead in some kind of business as usual way they are actually implementing an immigration policy in a very narrow way”, she said.

“It just shows a lack of compassion and the general attitude to people to people from minority, immigrant communities.

“I hope that it will be challenged and Justice4Grenfell will certainly be challenging it.”

Labour has also raised concerns families of the bereaved and survivors could face deportation within weeks as their leave to remain under the Grenfell Tower Relatives Policy expires.

Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad said at least six families in her constituency needed to extend their visas and were living in limbo as they anxiously waited to hear if the Home Office will accept their applications.

One disabled survivor, who did not wish to be identified, asked a close family member to come to the UK to help them after their partner – and carer – died in June’s blaze.

The family member is still waiting to hear back from the Home Office about whether they will have the right to remain to look after their relative once their visa expires.

Ms Abbott said deportations of survivors or their families could block important testimony from being heard by the ongoing public enquiry.

The Prime Minister has said she wants the Inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire to leave no stone unturned and that all those affected by the fire should participate in it”, she wrote.

“With the amnesty for undocumented people expiring this month, the threat of deportation is a real possibility. A number of core participants’ short-term visas are also due to run out in the next few weeks.

“We need a full picture of all the contributory factors to the fire and its consequences. Immigration status should not and must not become a barrier to the Inquiry’s investigations.”

Ms Dent Coad said the Home Office was in a position to “alleviate some of the burden” for “those who have lost everything” by guaranteeing survivors and their families would not be deported.

Ms Rudd had not responded to Labour’s letter at the time of writing.