Eyewitness: Justice and answers

21 June 2017

A resident reports on protests

WITH COUNCIL officers from RBKC’s Tory administration lying low in the days following the fire, local residents called for people to assemble at the council offices to demand answers.

Scores of people came directly from the local community centres, still bustling with those organising relief efforts and searching for loved ones.

There were no clear leaders or spokespeople, but a community under pressure had already developed a cohesive spirit of collaboration, which was clear as numbers grew. Those present were a snapshot of Notting Dale’s diverse communities, with people from several continents and dozens of national and religious backgrounds.

The first speech was addressed to the crowd, demanding that the councillors meet the residents and issue clear written responses, guidelines and advice to residents.

But this was soon followed by an outbreak of impromptu speeches, delivered to the crowd and to whoever was listening nearby, in a multitude of accents and emotions.

Soon the frustration built to a head and the residents occupied the council lobby, calling on councillors to face us.

The demonstration was dominated by the anger and shock that follows in the wake of a disaster in which almost every member of the community knows someone affected.

But unlike similar spontaneous protests, this action was marked out by its intensely political nature and hostility to the media, accused by many of helping the government to control the situation, playing down reports from residents, and keeping people in the dark.

The few hours of the protest crackled with discussions, proposals and counter-proposals. It was possible to see the community’s first steps to creating a collective, political response and campaign for answers.

Throughout the whole protest the refrain was the same: against Theresa May; down with the councillors; justice and answers.


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