THERE were more than 5,000 people on the Grenfell Tower Fire 5th Anniversary Silent Walk, organised by Grenfell United on Tuesday 14th June.
The walk, an approximately two-mile circuit around the Tower, set off at 6.30pm led by bereaved families holding their banner, followed by multiple heart- and butterfly-shaped handmade signs.
Almost everyone on the walk was wearing something green.
The dignified silence that prevailed was only broken by the grateful applause by walkers as they passed through the Guard of Honour by uniformed firefighters standing to attention either side of the road at Ladbroke Grove Underground Station.
While the walk was assembling, workers and local residents spoke to News Line.
A large delegation of postal workers from north west London attended the walk with their banners.
Postal worker Said Sekram, who used to deliver to Grenfell Tower, said: ‘We should have had some justice long before now. We will not be silent any longer. The government and all the contractors involved are responsible.’
Amina said: ‘The powers that be are absolutely corrupt. They use lower class citizens and choose to neglect them in times of need.
‘There should be accountability for their part in this. But they are not accountable. It’s been five years and nothing’s happened.
‘There are 40 families from Grenfell that still haven’t got permanent housing.
‘There are no sanctions on the government or any of the companies involved in putting the cladding on.
‘A large percentage of high-rise blocks in the country are still covered in cladding.’
Deborah said: ‘The government response was terrible.
‘The community was left to give people food and shelter and everything. People I know are still in hotels.
‘Cladding is still on buildings. They used this cladding because it was cheap. They were willing to let people die.
‘The Prime Minister made this ridiculous speech saying that people on Universal Credit can buy their social housing, which would result in even less social housing.
‘I would be happy to see the end of this government and the bringing in of a workers government instead.’
Asma said: ‘I think they have not done justice. We haven’t seen anything done.
‘We, as a community are suffering. We want to see people responsible held accountable.
‘They should be tried in a proper court of law because they knew what they were doing.
‘It’s not fair for the people who have died and the bereaved families.
‘I live in a tower block. We have no trust in the authorities. There are no sprinklers. We are on the 17th floor.’
Hanna said: ‘The Grenfell fire should not have happened. People were talking about the cladding for years, trying to get rid of it.
‘Kensington and Chelsea is the richest borough in London and they wouldn’t listen. Five years on and we are still fighting.’
Alia said: ‘I’m appalled that nothing has been done. It’s a repeat of Hillsborough – that’s exactly what it is. Everyone will be dead by the time they propose anything.
‘When Theresa May came here after the fire, she stood and talked to the firemen and the police, but not to the local people. Corbyn came a few days later and consoled us.
‘Justice should be done. I hate the Tory government and capitalism.
‘I am a support worker for drugs and alcohol. Our Rehab and Detox centres in the city have been closed down, going from twelve to one. The workloads we have are dangerous.
‘They wanted the estate to be knocked down for years. After Grenfell, they can’t do it. They build luxury flats which are unaffordable.’
Zein said: ‘It should not have happened. The fire alarms did not work and the fire exit doors were locked. It is the worst thing to see people burning alive – like a bruise in the head. Why? Why? Why? Safety is the priority.
‘People on the 13th floor and above couldn’t survive. Some of them didn’t even know the building was burning.
‘People are still demonstrating, still living in the situation. Lessons have not been learnt yet.’
Dorothy said: ‘I want to support the families, there must be accountability. There is guilt.
‘The local council would not listen to the concerns of the people living in Grenfell and they were carrying out the orders of the Tories, including their “bonfire of regulations” policy.’
Official placards of Grenfell United read: ‘This much evidence – Still no charges’, hashtag ‘Demand Change.’
At 8pm there was a rally in the enclosure at the foot of the tower, spilling out into the neighbouring streets.
The names of the 72 people who died were read out.
Speeches were made by famous west London rapper Big Zuu, Chair of Grenfell United Natasha Elcock, poet Lowkey and Grenfell United leader Karim Mussilhy.
Natasha Elcock said: ‘We have seen a catalogue of corruption. Justice is still so far off. The government won’t do the right thing. We lost 18 children. I lost my uncle, he would want me to continue the fight.
‘Tonight makes me realise that you guys are going to continue to support us, whatever the government wants us to do.
‘The government kicked the recommendations of the committee into the long grass. We have been failed. No one has been charged. This must change.’
Concluding the meeting Karim Mussilhy said: ‘This was easily preventable, but the government allowed it to happen and they do not want change.
‘They wine and dine with the criminals. They have a cosy relationship with Arconic and Celotex.
‘We are no closer to justice than in the early days. What have we learnt? The government don’t care about us.
‘Our message is, “You may not listen to us, but our kids are stepping up and they will make you listen to them”.’
• More photos in gallery