Four years after Grenfell tragedy, justice for victims remains elusive

On June 14, 2017, a fire that started from a malfunctioning freezer in an apartment, rapidly spread to the exterior of the 24-storey Grenfell Tower block of flats in North Kensington, West London. 72 people lost their lives and many more were injured

June 16, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Grenfell anniversary UK
Protest by Justice4Grenfell activists outside Wembley Stadium. (Photo: via Justice4Grenfell)

On June 14, Monday, victims of the Grenfell fire were remembered by survivors and community organizations in London, who marked the fourth anniversary of the tragedy that claimed 72 lives. The remembrances were made by groups such as Grenfell United and Justice4Grenfell under the theme Go Green for Grenfell. They were mainly confined to online events due to COVID-19 restrictions. Survivors and relatives of the Grenfell victims have alleged that even after four years of the tragedy, there has been no change or action to ensure justice for the victims. 

On June 14, 2017, a fire that started from a malfunctioning freezer in an apartment rapidly spread to the exterior of the 24-storey Grenfell Tower block of flats in North Kensington, West London. The tragedy, one of the deadliest structural fires in the history of the UK, evoked widespread protests and highlighted the state of safety in overcrowded living spaces across cities in the country. 

The first report of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry published in 2019, which mainly focused on the causes of the fire and its rapid spread, claimed that the building’s exterior was not in compliance with the safety regulations. It became evident that the cladding on the exterior of the building was responsible for the rapid spread of fire. After the findings, authorities initiated a review of the existing fire and safety regulations, as well as a survey of the building blocks which have similar cladding as Grenfell. Following demands from survivors and relatives of the victims, a second phase of investigation was started in 2020, which mainly focused on the management of the building by the local council and authorities, and the response from the fire brigade during the fire.

On the fourth anniversary of the tragedy, the Justice4Grenfell initiative started a campaign and a petition calling on the government to reform the 2005 Inquiries Act to make it a legal obligation to implement Inquiry recommendations. 

Justice4Grenfell spokesperson Yvette Williams said that “those in positions of power must be held accountable as it has been four years of inequality and inaction. Few recommendations from Phase 1 of the inquiry have been implemented; amendments to a fire safety bill were consistently voted down and thousands of people still live in unsafe homes with poor or no remuneration to remove dangerous materials.”

“At the same time, building industry companies who falsified fire tests and certificates are still making huge profits. Housing managers who ignored tenants and fire and safety compliance are indifferent to their failures and still have their jobs and a Criminal Investigation has been paused until the conclusion of the Inquiry. This is not justice; this is a lack of political will and accountability,” she added.

The Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and the Young Communist League (YCL-Britain)  expressed their solidarity and support for the campaign seeking justice for the victims of the Grenfell tragedy. They also demanded a drastic change in governmental social spending to ensure safe social housing for those in need as a high priority. 

On Monday, protests were also staged by activists from Palestine Action at the Arconic factory in Birmingham, which made the ‘inflammable’ cladding responsible for the Grenfell fire. The protesters alleged that the Arconic factory is not only responsible for the Grenfell tragedy, but also complicit in the killings of innocent Palestinians in Gaza as it also makes parts for Israeli warplanes. According to a Morning Star report, two activists occupied the roof of the factory and sprayed the factory with blood-red paint, symbolizing the 72 victims of the Grenfell tragedy and the over 250 Palestinians, including 65 children, who were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza in May.

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