Grenfell Fire - Fight for Justice!

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Upcoming events in January:

Join us in solidarity with the Silent Walk

Sunday 14th January, 6.30pm

- at Notting Hill Methodist Church W11 4AH


Demonstrate against Rydon (the company that fitted unsafe cladding at Grenfell Tower)

Thursday 18th January, 9-10am

- meet at Angel Tube Station


Demonstrate at the next RBKC council meeting

Wednesday 24th January, 6pm

- at the Town Hall, Hornton Street W8 7NX


Public meeting to discuss Grenfell Fire and the Housing Crisis

Tuesday 30th January, 7.30pm

- at Marchmont Street Community Centre, 62 Marchmont St WC1N 1AB


Demonstrate outside the Public Inquiry

Tuesday 30th and Wednesday 31st January, 10am

Holborn Bars EC1N 2NQ


We will also continue to be on the streets of West London every Saturday outside Ladbroke Grove Tube Station from 1pm to 3pm.
 
The National and Local Government have continued to show contempt for the community of Grenfell, survivors and relatives. The majority of families still have not been offered appropriate and safe accommodation in their borough. The request that for the Public Inquiry to have a diverse decision-making panel has been rejected outright by Theresa May.
 
Meanwhile across London social housing is being sold off and demolished by both Labour and Tory councils in the midst of a housing crisis, leaving people in unsafe, neglected accommodation. We must build a movement to defend social housing and to fight for justice for the community of Grenfell.
 
We'd love to see you at the events! Don't just get angry, get active!
 
In strength and solidarity,

West London Revolutionary Communist Group

Grenfell: Silent Walk - 14 Dec 2017

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Thursday 14 December marked six months since the tragic fire in Grenfell Tower. During the day there was a memorial service at St Paul's Cathedral, which was followed in the evening by the monthly Silent Walk. 

Members of the RCG attended the Silent Walk. Up to 2,000 people attended – survivors, families of the bereaved, community members and supporters, some holding green candles, others photos of the victims, giant green hearts and placards with various slogans. Outside Ladbroke Grove station fire fighters from Red Watch, North Kensington fire station lined the streets and were thanked by the crowd.

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‘Justice 4 Grenfell’ - letting Kensington and Chelsea Council get away with murder

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Since the Grenfell Tower fire six months ago the Revolutionary Communist Group has maintained a regular presence on the streets of north Kensington in solidarity with the demands of survivors and local residents. Without real pressure built on the streets, Kensington and Chelsea Council will continue to get away with murder. We have held an open mic on our weekend stalls outside Ladbroke Grove and Shepherd’s Bush stations, and protests outside the monthly meetings of the criminal Kensington and Chelsea Council. We have held demonstrations outside not only KCTMO – the management company that oversaw the lethal and cut-price refurbishment of the block – but the homes of individual councillors who have consistently failed the survivors of the disaster. Through these actions we have stood in solidarity with those who have lost everything and who continue to demand decent, local rehousing, criminal charges against those responsible and accountability for the systematic destruction and neglect of council housing in the borough.

Time after time, we have been told by local people how much they appreciate the chance to express their anger. After six months, the majority of those who lost everything in the fire on 14 June have still not been rehoused, and are living in inadequate temporary accommodation, much of it hostels and B&Bs - that figure includes more than 200 children. Now the council is saying it does not expect to find adequate new homes for everyone for at least a year, maybe longer.

On 22 November, at an RCG public meeting held at the Maxilla Walk social club, local people made it clear that what they wanted to see was more action on the streets to put real pressure on the local council. The meeting called for a protest outside the full council meeting at Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall on 6 December. In a belated but welcome move, Justice 4 Grenfell – the SWP-led group that styles itself as the ‘official’ movement – subsequently also announced they were calling a protest for the same day. Justice 4 Grenfell had not mobilised for or attended the previous two council meetings, where protests were held the by local residents, the RCG, Class War, and others.

On the evening of 6 December, comrades from the RCG set up a stall and an open sound system right outside the council building. We were joined by local residents, comrades from Class War and other political groups and supporters. There were local housing campaigns such as the Genesis and Notting Hill Trust campaign, and activists from across London including the Focus E15 campaign from Newham in East London. Later a contingent marched from Maxilla Walk and the Memorial Space to join the protest.

Yet as soon as organisers from Justice 4 Grenfell arrived, we were confronted by one of its leading members, the SWP’s Moyra Samuels, and Brian Richardson, another SWP member from Stand Up to Racism. Samuels told us to move our stall as we were not the ‘official’ movement – they questioned our very right to be there. As they set up their sound system and closed list of speakers they attempted to silence and isolate us. While we were censored, Labour MP speakers including Emma Dent Coad and Edmonton MP Kate Osamor, were welcomed onto the Justice 4 Grenfell platform – to heckling and anger from those who are all too aware of the appalling role of Labour councils across London in accelerating the destruction of council homes. The same week, in Haringey, 'anti-HDV’ Labour 'left' councillors had scabbed on local residents by staying away from the council meeting where a vote on an estate demolition was being held in order not to breach the Labour whip and lose their position! In Lambeth, in south London, Labour councillors this week told campaigners fighting for a ballot to save their homes in Cressingham Gardens that – despite Corbyn’s commitment at the Labour Party conference – there would be no implementation of a ballot policy on regeneration until Labour were in power. These are not the forces that are going to build a movement in solidarity with Grenfell residents and survivors or anyone else fighting for decent housing. On the contrary, Justice 4 Grenfell and the SWP are deliberately promoting the very forces who are going to hold such a movement back and ensure that the state is allowed to get away with yet another whitewash.

The sectarianism of the SWP and its allies is unacceptable. They are not attempting to build a movement on the ground and we will not allow them to silence those who are. We have seen these tactics time after time from those who continually limit all demands for resistance to what is acceptable to the electoral aspirations of the Labour Party. We know that is a dead end. And so, despite the blatant hostility and censorship of Justice 4 Grenfell organisers, we refused to be moved. We are not going anywhere. We will not allow the charlatans and criminals on Kensington and Chelsea Council to get away with murder. We will continue to mobilise and organise in every way we can alongside local residents in north Kensington to support their demands for justice including:

  • immediate rehousing of all survivors now
  • criminal charges against the councillors and KCTMO who bear direct responsibility for the Grenfell fire
  • a people’s inquiry, not a public inquiry whitewash

Across London, we will continue to fight to expose the thoroughly reactionary role being played by Labour councils in the destruction of social housing and attacks on their working class residents.

*This article was amended on 19/12/17 to make clear that the councillors who stayed away from the Love Lane vote were not newly-selected.


To get in touch email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Grenfell: RCG joins North Kensington residents in mobile street action against RBKC councillors

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Local residents confront Cllr David Lindsay           Photo: Peter Marshall, MyLondonDiary

On Monday 27 November RCG comrades organised with local residents of North Kensington and allies from Focus E15 and the campaign against the Notting Hill Housing/Genesis merger to conduct a mobile protest of the homes of several councillors of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC). Around 50 people participated, bringing with them banners, placards, pots, pans, fairy lights and an open microphone to mount a loud street action demanding criminal charges for those responsible for the Grenfell Tower fire and the immediate rehousing of survivors, the majority of who remain in inadequate temporary and emergency accommodation almost six months on. The protest was organised at a meeting with local residents the week before.

Two residents, including a mother living on the Lancaster West estate whose children lost friends in the disaster, gave impassioned speeches before the march set off. ‘Today is about getting answers. We want to see charges for what happened… this didn't affect [the councillors], they're more interested in money, money, money.’

The lively procession wound through the streets of North Kensington, stopping to protest outside the upmarket properties of councillors. The group chanted, ‘Justice for Grenfell – criminal charges now!’ Car drivers and bus drivers waved and pipped their horns in support, and a number of people joined the protest spontaneously.

Our first stop was the home of Cllr Rock Fielding-Mellen, former deputy leader of the council and Cabinet Member overseeing properties and regeneration, who was ultimately responsible for the refurbishment which turned Grenfell Tower into a deathtrap. Fielding-Mellen resigned from these positions shortly after the fire, and though he remains a councillor has failed to attend council meetings since then. As expected, we arrived to find the councillor had hastily renovated his property and vacated the area. More aware now than ever of his landlord's pariah status, the tenant in the property asked what he should do if more people come angrily to his door thinking Fielding-Mellen still lives there. 'Put up a sign saying "down with Rock Fielding-Mellen" and you will get no trouble,' a comrade advised.

The protest marched on to the home of Cllr David Lindsay, Lead Member for Finance and Corporate Services at RBKC. The councillor arrived at his house shortly after we did and was challenged to speak on the microphone and answer the crowd's questions: why had it been left entirely up to the community to provide support on the ground after the fire? Lindsay said that he and his wife had volunteered at the Clement James Centre in the aftermath, and that he 'had no position of authority'. A protestor replied: 'Then join the protest!' Lindsay declined to do this. Why haven't the survivors been rehoused yet? He said that the council is spending 'hundreds of millions of pounds buying housing' and that it had promised to rehouse survivors 'on identical terms'. What has he done personally to hold the other council members to account for their role in the refurbishment, which was not approved by the residents? Why are the people responsible still getting paid? His answer, that 'a good number of council colleagues… are not standing for re-election next year', was met with groans of derision. Shouts of 'criminal charges now!' went up.

Shortly we were on the move again to visit a further two properties: those of Cllrs Julie Mills and Warwick Lightfoot. Neither councillor showed themselves while rallies and speeches were held outside each location. The protest concluded outside Cllr Lightfoot's house with final speeches from the residents calling for further action and urging 'No justice, no peace!' They implored everyone to be at the next council meeting. The residents of flats opposite Lightfoot's house cheered from their balconies.

Politicians and businesspeople are not afraid of public inquiries, least of all the official public inquiry into the Grenfell fire. It is still unknown when the inquiry will start its first hearings. The guilty have had six months to prepare their defence and will have months more to do so. The inquiry will be conducted by people just like them – local government executives and property developers. They know what they will be asked and what they won't be asked. What they do fear is direct action – people uniting to confront them directly, when they least expect it, demanding real action and real answers.

The Revolutionary Communist Group will again be joining allies at the next meeting of the RBKC, taking place at 6.30pm on Wednesday 6 December at Kensington Town Hall, Hornton Street, W8 7NX. Join us there to keep up the pressure.


*The inquiry recently announced the appointment of Joe Montgomery CB as one of its assessors, who acted as director for regeneration at Lewisham Council, where the redevelopment of Deptford and New Cross has met with accusations of social cleansing (Why are Labour councils being accused of social cleansing? Kirsty Major, The Independent, 3 November 2017). He was also appointed as non-executive director of Re, the joint venture through which Barnet Council has privatised most of its services (Outsourced and unaccountable: this is the future of local government, Aditya Chakrabortty, The Guardian, 15 December 2014)

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Photos: Peter Marshall, MyLondonDiary

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