Grenfell victims remembered

by New Worker correspondent

LONDON fell silent last week as the capital paid tribute to the victims of one of the biggest fire tragedies in Britain since the Second World War — the fire that engulfed the Grenfell Tower high-rise apartment block. There was a 72-second silence, the release of white doves, and a solemn remembrance service at St Helens Church in North Kensington for the 72 people who died in the tragedy on 14th June 2017.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, joined thousands of other mourners who flooded the streets surrounding Grenfell Tower for a silent march to mark one year since the fire. Famed singers and song-writers, Adele and Stormzy, mingled with the crowd to remember the victims of the disaster as the country fell silent on the first anniversary of the deadliest residential fire since the Blitz.

At a memorial service held close to what used to be Grenfell Tower, the names of each victim were read out. London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who laid flowers at the scene, said London “stands shoulder to shoulder” with the Grenfell community.

“Today is about remembering the 72 lives so tragically lost in the Grenfell Tower fire a year ago, innocent victims young and old, children, parents, grandparents, friends and loved ones as well as all those injured and affected. Londoners will never forget the horror and disbelief on waking up to the shocking news” he said.

The tower, now a burned out shell, was draped in a green cover, the colour adopted by Grenfell survivor groups, with a large heart-shaped emblem at the top, with the message “Grenfell, forever in our hearts”.

Green balloons were released from the top of tower along with 73 doves - one for every life lost, and another for the victims they fear have never been identified.

A number of buildings across London were floodlit in green at the precise moment the fire broke out, starting as a small kitchen blaze but quickly spreading to upper floors of the 24-storey building, trapping families.

According to the Kensington and Chelsea Council, among the 120 households in Grenfell, 52 households remain in temporary accommodation and 83 are in permanent homes. Another 68 are still in “emerGrenfell victims remembered

gency” accommodation — 42 in hotels, 22 in serviced apartments, and four staying with family or friends. The Queen was represented at the Grenfell events in London by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester but she paused to observe the silence during a royal visit to open a new bridge across the River Mersey in Cheshire. Prince Charles stood silent in Cork during an official visit to the Irish Republic while members of the England football team, in Russia for the World Cup, also observed the silent tribute.

In Scotland over 250 people gathered on The Mound in Edinburgh for a vigil, organised by Edinburgh Trades Council, for the victims of the Grenfell disaster.

Speakers at the Edinburgh vigil included representatives of the fire Brigades Union, Unison, UNITE, the Educational Institute of Scotland,Neil findlay. a Labour member of the Scottish parliament, and the Edinburgh Tenants’ Federation. ‘Protest in Harmony’, Edinburgh’s radical singing group, performed several songs of peace and justice at the vigil. All speakers were united in their demand for the truth and their determination that Grenfell should not happen again. The vigil closed with Mary Alexander, Deputy Regional Secretary for Unite in Scotland, reading from Ben Okri’s poem