London Grenfell disaster killed photographer Khadija Saye

This 2 September 2017 video from Britain says about itself:

Khadija Saye tragically lost her life in the Grenfell Tower fire at the age of just 24. In this interview filmed a month beforehand, she talks about her ambitions and her photography exhibition in Venice.

The footage is taken from the BBC Arts programme Venice Biennale: Britain’s New Voices.

BY LUCY LAVER in Britain today:

Khadija Saye: Breath is Invisible

Khadija Saye 1992-2017 236 Westbourne Grove W11 2RH Until August 7th

WITH THE reconvening of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry on Monday and the recent and ongoing global Black Lives Matter uprising, this is a pertinent and timely outdoor exhibition of the remarkable photographic works of the late Khadija Saye.

The exhibition was unveiled by Labour MP David Lammy earlier this week in Notting Hill.

The large intriguing prints are displayed across the façade of 236 Westbourne Grove W11, and the powerful exhibition coincides with the launch of an art project, the Khadija Saye IntoArts Programme, that aims to diversify the industry, working with young people from disadvantaged and marginalised backgrounds.

It was founded in her memory by the charity, IntoUniversity, who had nurtured Khadija’s artistic talents as a North Kensington student from childhood, and her mentor Nicola Green, a British portrait painter and the wife of David Lammy.

Khadija Mohammadou Saye, also known as Ya-Haddy Sisi Saye, was a London born British Gambian artist and activist who lived and worked in the flat she shared with her mother, Mary Mendy, on the 20th floor of Grenfell Tower in urban North Kensington.

Although Kensington and Chelsea is one of the smaller and wealthier boroughs in London, North Kensington is a relatively deprived area where its pockets of poverty often sit in stark contrast to the wealth of those around them.

Despite this, at 16 Khadija won a full Arnold Foundation scholarship to the esteemed Rugby School and went on to study a BA in photography at UCA Farnham with a particular interest in post-colonial theory and identity politics.

Her graduate exhibition, ‘Crowned’ was a series of thought-provoking portraits shot in her home against a black velvet background depicting the traditional hairstyles such as braids, locks and cornrows worn by her friends, family and neighbours.

Saye had a passionate drive to make art a more inclusive space and had worked at Jawaab, a creative campaigning group aimed at legitimising young Muslims to become politically and artistically active.

The series used in the current exposition is entitled Dwelling: In This Space We Breathe.

The portfolio of self-portraits is a very personal exploration of the notions of identity and spirituality, inspired by Khadija’s Muslim and Christian religious heritage and portraying traditional Gambian rituals with culturally significant and meaningful objects.

The sepia-toned images have been described by critics as heartwarming, haunting and relic-like, with an ancient feel.

The aged look was achieved by an early photographic process created in 1851 called Wet Collodion Tintype.

The technique entails adding a soluble iodide to a collodion solution and then coating a glass plate with it.

This method results in images steeped in ethereal tones of grey and black.

Khadija’s use of this process and her characterisation of traditional African practices results in powerful and memorable portraits that are reminiscent of the sepia-toned images of early 19th century photographs.

Following her death, Tate Britain announced that they would exhibit a screen print of one of her tintype photographs from the Dwelling series.

Earlier in the year, they had been exhibited in the Diaspora Pavilion at the prestigious 57th Venice Biennale, where Saye was their youngest-ever participant, at just 24 years old.

Described by those that knew her as kind, funny, bright and extremely talented with an infectious laugh, Khadija had been nervous and thrilled to be selected for such an undertaking and had reportedly caught the eye of a prominent director.

The event had heralded the cusp of her recognition, and the images were still on display when the fire tragically engulfed her home and took her life, aged only 24, in June 2017.

Today, in this urban public space however, Khadija’s art lives.

Breath Is Invisible is a public art project which will show four artists’ work in a shared public space to celebrate, reflect, question and heal, and work collaboratively with young creative and local non-profit community arts organisations. It is a project born of urgency to address issues of racism and injustice.

English Grenfell fire disaster scandal continues

This 20 June 2017 video from the USA about England is called Grenfell Tower Disaster Could’ve Been Avoided.

From daily News Line in Britain, 10 July 2020:

Grenfell Inquiry bans survivors and relatives while safety experts didn’t even bother to read about cladding

GRENFELL survivors and relatives of the 72 people killed in the Grenfell Tower inferno are furious that they have been excluded from the inquiry that re-started on Monday under strict social distancing rules.

Despite the fact that the Tories have been driving forward relaxation of these rules when it comes to re-opening pubs, restaurants and shops and exhorting people to come out and spend, spend and spend to save the economy, none of this applies to the bereaved and their supporters.

They are banned from attending the hearing which is taking place with only the inquiry panel, witnesses and their lawyers along with cross-examining inquiry counsel permitted to be present.

Monday saw the opening of the second phase of the Grenfell Inquiry which will hear testimony from corporate witnesses from the firms responsible for creating the death trap at Grenfell Tower.

In February these witnesses and the companies they work for were granted immunity by the Tory attorney general from prosecution arising out of the evidence they give following the threat that they would refuse to give evidence that would reveal crimes they had committed.

This immunity was also granted to the Kensington and Chelsea Management Organisation (TMO), the private company paid by the council to run and maintain Grenfell Tower.

In fact, the fear of prosecution for the criminal acts carried out against Grenfell Tower residents was well grounded.

It emerged in the first phase of the inquiry that there existed overwhelming evidence that the designers and contractors who installed the cladding responsible for turning the Tower into a death trap knew in 2011 that this cladding had failed fire safety tests and was ‘not suitable for use on building facades’.

This total disregard for human life and the cavalier dismissal of all risk was brought home by the first witnesses’ statements heard this week.

Terry Ashton, the lead fire and safety consultant of the cladding refurbishment told the inquiry that he had ignored the documents outlining the proposed insulation and cladding materials to be used.

Ashton said he didn’t read an email from the project architects detailing the cladding system because he was not the ‘primary recipient’ and he had not bothered to read the plans because they were ‘very lengthy documents’.

Ashton is employed by the materials and testing firm Exova employed to assess the refurbishment and has been a fire consultant for 25 years despite having no formal training.

He produced a fire safety strategy that made no mention of plans to reclad the tower, and concluded that: ‘The proposed changes will have no adverse effect on the building in relation to external fire spread, but this will be confirmed by an analysis in a future issue of this report.’

Ashton has already told the inquiry he gave advice on the fire safety of the refurbishment and cladding without even once visiting the tower block.

No wonder the inquiry was desperate to keep survivors and relatives of those killed out of the room while those with responsibility for overseeing the fire risk from cladding already known in the industry to be a massive danger testify they couldn’t be bothered to read relevant documents because they were too ‘lengthy’.

This entire inquiry has been a sham from the start.

The public are excluded out of fear that they will explode in anger as they listen to the contemptuous disregard for the lives of workers living in a death trap.

It was a death trap built by companies out to make a profit out of using cheap, deadly materials and relying on them being passed as safe by companies that ignored the most fundamental safety oversight.

There must be no immunity for these criminals.

Grenfell was not an accident. It was the inevitable result of a Tory government working hand in glove with these companies to make a profit out of building deathtraps for workers and their families.

Justice for the crimes committed for profit will not be achieved through this sham inquiry but only by bringing down this Tory government and bringing in a workers’ government that will arrest the real criminals and force them to answer in court for their murderous crimes against the working class.

British black nurse accuses police of racism

Neomi Bennett

By Bethany Rielly in Britain, 19 June 2020:

Nurse accuses Met Police of racial profiling after being subjected to ‘traumatic’ hard stop

A BLACK nurse has accused the Metropolitan Police of racial profiling after she was subjected to a “traumatic” hard stop while sitting in her parked car.

Met officers pulled in front of Neomi Bennett’s car in April 2019 and claimed – wrongly – that her windows were illegally tinted.

She was arrested and held in police custody overnight after she refused to get out, fearing it was “some kind of hijack” because she could only see an officer in plain clothes.

From the BBC, 18 June 2020:

Ms Bennett, who was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to nursing, is now taking legal action. …

She told the BBC: “I believe I was racially profiled and certainly don’t think this would have happened if I were white.”

The nurse, who invented the Neo-slip device to help patients with deep vein thrombosis, said she was “locked up” even though nothing illegal was found in her car and she was a “stone’s throw away” from her home and family. …

Ms Bennett was eventually convicted of obstructing a police officer and said the criminal record meant she lost out on some opportunities. …

Ms Bennett said she has since appealed against and overturned her conviction, but added that many people in her community had experienced similar encounters with police.

London Grenfell fire disaster and anti-racism

This 12 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

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People at the Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic at the base of the tower block in London, England on the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire which claimed 72 lives on June 14 2017

This photo shows people at the Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic at the base of the tower block in London, England on the third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire which claimed 72 lives on June 14 2017.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 14 June 2020:

Editorial: The Grenfell anniversary and the fight against racism

THREE years after the terrible blaze that took so many lives at Grenfell Tower, Britain, like so much of the world, is convulsed by the fallout from the racist murder of George Floyd in the United States.

Anti-racist demonstrations have swept the US and demos of impressive size are taking place in many other countries, including Britain.

At the same time, disgusting scenes in London on Saturday saw the far-right’s reaction, as fascists chanted that they were proud to be racist and gave Nazi salutes, oblivious to the irony of doing so when the supposed purpose of their presence in the capital was to protect war memorials including to those who died fighting fascism.

Yet the vibrant Black Lives Matter rallies taking place across Britain — that in Shepton Mallet, Somerset, movingly addressed by communist veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle Ken Keable — show that it is the anti-racist cause which is winning recruits and growing in influence, as do the movement’s victories from the United States to France.

Grenfell’s anniversary should, though, be a sobering moment. Three years later the families of the victims have not had justice.

Nor has the likelihood that we will witness similar episodes of “social murder” significantly decreased.

The Fire Brigades Union points out that 300 high-rise buildings across Britain are still encased in the same aluminium composite material cladding that proved so lethal at Grenfell.

The inquiry into the fire has been a grim farce, with companies involved in the tower block’s renovation scrabbling to avoid any responsibility in what QC Richard Millett called “a merry-go-round of buck-passing.”

Its very remit ignores the wider context of building deregulation and the social housing sector that would explain why it was possible for a residential block to be so unsafe, as well as why its inhabitants were so despised by Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council that their repeated raising of safety concerns was ignored.

For all its cost, the inquiry has yet to improve on author and rapper Akala’s summary within a day of the blaze: “These people died because they were poor.”

Grenfell’s residents were victims of a system that did not care about them. That system is still in place. The decades of deregulation that allow building companies to play fast and loose with workers’ and residents’ safety have not been addressed.

If we are to get justice for Grenfell, and if we are to secure lasting victories from the current anti-racist upsurge, we have to work for structural change.

That means understanding the role racial oppression, like oppression on the basis of sex, plays under capitalism to divide the working class and increase the rate of exploitation of sections of it.

It means working for unity among all oppressed and exploited people to fight back collectively.

It is advanced by fighting for specific demands that challenge oppression, such as the proposals for wide-ranging reforms of the national curriculum as proposed by the National Education Union, or for bans on dangerous restraint methods as we are seeing in the US and France — though not, so far, in Britain.

And with evidence that the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on black and ethnic minority communities is linked to their place in the class system — disproportionately earning less, in more public-facing roles and more cramped accommodation — it is clear the battle for social justice must be waged against capitalism and racism simultaneously.

‘IT’S been an absolute outrage that three years later and the Grenfell families still have no justice, and homes are still unsafe’, Joe Delaney, local resident, activist and Grenfell campaigner said yesterday: here.

Firefighters condemn ‘shameless’ property developer’s call to relax ban on flammable cladding: here.

National Audit Office Says Families Will Live In Fire Deathtraps Until Mid-2022: here.

Nazi violence against London Black Lives Matter

This 13 June 2020 video from the (Conservative) Daily Telegraph in Britain says about itself:

Aerial footage shows Far-Right protesters clashing with police in Trafalgar Square

Police are forced to push Far-Right protesters back from a Black Lives Matter demo in central London on Saturday. Britain First claimed its members were trying to protect monuments.

By Bethany Rielly in England, 14 June 2020:

Far-right delinquents ‘protect statues’ in London with nazi salutes and urine

National Union of Journalists condemns hooligans’ violent attacks on the press

FAR-RIGHT protesters who descended on the capital at the weekend to “protect statues” were seen giving nazi salutes, attacking journalists and urinating on a memorial.

Anti-racist groups condemned Saturday’s violence as “actual extremism and thuggery”, countering Tory ministers’ slurs directed at Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters last week.

Footage of the protests, attended by 5,000 football hooligans and far-right groups, showed topless white men drinking beer and chanting “England, England” while others attempted to punch police, throw bottles and let off fireworks.

More than 100 people were arrested, the Metropolitan Police said.

They included a 28-year-old man who was held on suspicion of urinating on a memorial dedicated to PC Keith Palmer, who was killed in the Westminster terror attack of 2017.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said that there had been multiple attacks on reporters, with one photographer suffering a broken nose.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “It is clear that many protesters on London’s streets today were thugs spoiling for a fight, who decided to focus their anger at journalists out doing their job.”

Journalists described the atmosphere as “menacing” and “threatening” and some media outlets advised staff not to engage with or seek interviews with protesters, the union said.

Later on Saturday, scuffles also broke out in Trafalgar Square between far-right groups and police officers.

Stand Up To Racism campaigner Patrick Nielson said that he had seen a young black man “brutally attacked” by a 20-strong group who kicked and punched him while he was on the floor.

“He wasn’t even part of the BLM protest,” Mr Nielson said. “This young black man couldn’t have been older than 14 or 15. If we give racists an inch, they take a mile.”

The anti-racist group accused Mr Johnson of “giving oxygen and encouragement” to far-right forces by claiming last week that the Black Lives Matter movement has been “hijacked by extremists.”

Hope not Hate chief executive Nick Lowles said: “It was violence of a different order to anything seen last week — deliberate, sought after and planned. This was what actual extremism and thuggery looks like.”

Due to the threat posed by football hooligan and far-right groups, Black Lives Matter organisers decided to cancel their protests in the capital.

However, protests went ahead elsewhere, including in Bristol and Newcastle.

Today, 7,000 Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrated in Leeds, filling the city’s Millennium Square and streets around the city centre.

An estimated 100 to 200 fascist counterprotesters gathered at Leeds war memorial but were kept apart from the BLM demonstration by police.

A news photographer said that he had been threatened and abused by fascists who threw beer at him and shouted: “Anti-fa scum.”

In contrast, BLM protesters chanted: “Give peace a chance,” as they flocked into the square.

British neonazis attack #BlackLivesMatter, parody music

This 14 June 2020 satiric music video from Britain is called The White Gripes – Gammon Nation Army.

It is a parody of the song Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes.

It says about itself:

Out now on Britain First Records.


We’re gonna fight ‘em all
Gammon nation army with our Union Jacks
We’re going down Whitehall
All lives matter,

All lives matter, cartoon

obviously, except browns and blacks
And I’m pissing on a statue now

‘Cause I already forgot
Why I’m meant to be here
That’s how fucking pissed I got

And the message coming from my eyes
Says, “You fuckin’ what?”

Don’t wanna hear about it
Every single race has got their very own tale
We like to shout about ours
From the Queen of England to the Daily Mail
And if we catch you being black ‘round here
We’ll swarm on you like orcs
If you don’t show up, we’ll fight the pigs
So it’s pork-on-pork

And the message coming from Britain First
Says, “Heil Churchill!”

This 13 June 2020 video from the (Conservative) Daily Telegraph in Britain says about itself:

Aerial footage shows Far-Right protesters clashing with police in Trafalgar Square

Police are forced to push Far-Right protesters back from a Black Lives Matter demo in central London on Saturday. Britain First claimed its members were trying to protect monuments.

Three years after Grenfell, still dangerous cladding

 The burned-out remains of the Grenfell Tower block in London, England

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 12 June 2020:

Fire chiefs condemn failure to replace cladding three years on from Grenfell

IT IS “wholly unacceptable” that buildings are still covered in unsafe cladding three years after the Grenfell Tower disaster, fire chiefs have said.

The National Fire Chiefs Council called for “a fundamental reform of building safety” ahead of Sunday’s third anniversary of the fire that killed 72 people.

Council chairman Roy Wilsher said: “Everyone has a right to feel safe in their homes” and called on ministers to speed up changes.

“In many cases, building owners are not doing enough to support residents. Some leaseholders are paying unacceptable fees to maintain safety measures which were meant to be temporary,” Mr Wilsher said.

His comments came after a parliamentary committee warned that fixing all serious fire-safety defects in high-risk residential buildings could cost up to £15 billion.

Some 2,000 residential buildings are still wrapped in dangerous cladding, meaning that thousands of homeowners sleep in potential fire traps every night, according to the report by the housing, communities and local government committee.

Grenfell campaigners, firefighters and Labour blast government’s inaction for justice and fire safety over last three years: here.

After Grenfell disaster, British Conservatives still anti-safety

The remains of Grenfell Tower in London, England

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain, 11 June 2020:

Grenfell campaigners and Labour slam ministers for failing to meet deadline for removal of flammable cladding

THE Tory government was slammed today after it failed to meet its own deadline for removing all flammable cladding from buildings.

There are still about 300 buildings covered in aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding, three years on from the anniversary this Sunday of the Grenfell Tower fire that killed 72 people.

In July 2019, then Housing Secretary James Brokenshire set a deadline of June 2020 for all Grenfell-style cladding to be removed and replaced on tower blocks.

London Natural History Museum during COVID-19

This 4 June 2020 video from London, England says about itself:

The Museum in Lockdown: Who feeds the beetles | Natural History Museum

What does it take to look after 80 million specimens during lockdown?

As COVID-19 spread around the world, the Museum closed its doors for the first time since the Second World War. But who was going to look after the fossils and flesh-eating beetles?

How to paint a blue whale, video

This 28 May 2020 video from the Natural History Museum in London, England says about itself:

Join us for this live stream event and learn step-by-step how to paint Hope the blue whale. Discover interesting facts about biodiversity and sustainability as you paint and sip along at home.

Hope’s 25-metre skeleton, suspended in Hintze Hall in a majestic swooping posture, is an astonishing reminder of the fragility of life and the responsibility we have towards our planet. Taking inspiration from this impressive specimen, you will learn fascinating facts while practising your painting techniques on the night.

All you need to follow along at home is some paper/canvas and something to colour, draw or paint with.

The event is hosted in collaboration with Art Sippers: fun paint and sip experiences in London