Grenfell was ‘murder’: Hundreds descend on Parliament for the ‘Day Of Rage’ protest
Most were there for Grenfell, but others for their own agendas
Hundreds descended on London’s Trafalgar Square and the areas surrounding Parliament today, marching in response to the Grenfell tower block fire.
The demo, which took place in scorching heat of 34 degrees (the hottest June day since the 60s) and was marketed as a “Day Of Rage”, was organised by the ‘Movement For Justice by Any Means Necessary’ group. They describe Grenfell as “murder”.
The group’s Karen Doyle told The Tab: “Today’s the day of the Queen’s Speech, the point at which Theresa May is looking to cement rule for five years. For us, what happened at Grenfell was a crime of cuts. It was murder, and disdain for poor, working class, black and Muslim communities.
“We know the struggle to get basic info. Today is a day to say we don’t accept May’s government. We need to put people before profit.”
When asked about the “Day Of Rage” name, she said rage “sums up” what people are feeling, and that “anger can be a real force for change.”
Whether change can be achieved is still unclear, as investigations into the blaze continue. One thing is for certain, though – that there was a lot of anger on the streets of London today. The ages, backgrounds and reasons for attendance among those present were varied. Protestors insisted that this was “not a Corbyn thing, it’s a justice thing”, yet support for the Labour leader was strong and the subject of several chants.
Probably the oldest protestor was 82-year-old Terry Hutt. A former carpenter and joiner, he said he had come down for “justice” and expressed his concerns about the treatment of the poor, which he sees as summed up by Grenfell. Chants of “Justice for Grenfell” were loudly repeated throughout the afternoon.
There was a common feeling that Theresa May had “blood on her hands”, and that the authorities were suppressing the truth of the tragedy. A woman named Marwa told The Tab that the government “needs to get the truth out there”, and she is convinced several hundreds died.
As the protest reached Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square there was a heavy police presence, including armed police, as some protestors set off flares. There were visible confrontations between a couple of protestors and police as the march blocked off traffic.
A few men yelled “terrorists” at the police and as they passed Parliament. Police struggled to move protestors away as anger grew. A new chant of “if they won’t give us justice, we won’t give them peace” went up, with many angry at the media. “No thanks”, snarled one woman when asked to say a few words. “We’ve done too many interviews”, said another.
One man called on Corbyn to “purge the Blairites” in the Labour Party. Others shouted about free education and even shouted threats to Theresa May, adding an element of unsavoury sideshow that had nothing to do with Grenfell.
Most protestors seemed civil but angry, and 46-year-old Amanda was very passionate about justice being done over the tower fire. “I felt I needed to add my voice to the many,” she explained. “If it doesn’t change soon even more people are going to die. Austerity kills, as does greed.”
As time ticked by and Big Ben rang out at 4pm, things seemed to have reached an impasse. Roads were still closed off – to the frustration of bus passengers and cabbies – while protestors were still chanting and the police still out in large numbers. Turnout estimates ranged from about 200 to 400.
There’s no denying the tragedy of what happened at Grenfell. The rage shown over the tower tragedy was justified and largely well articulated. However, it was hard to shake the sense that the protest was hijacked by some for unrelated political ends.