Protests grow in London as fire anger increases

Demonstrators sit in the road in the West End, during a protest following the fire that destroyed The Grenfell Tower block, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 16, 2017.

Protests are being held in London as residents demand support for those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

The first protest began at the town hall and scores joined in and made their way into the building.

Between 50 and 60 people stormed Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall as members of the public said the homeless needed help “right now”.

One member of the public said: “Nobody knows what is happening. People are so angry. Those people shouldn’t be sleeping in the street”.

Mustafa Al Mansur, who organised the protest, read a statement from the council which promised to rehouse as many people locally as they could and to provide funding for those affected.

But he called the response “flimsy” with “no concrete answers” – especially on the question of number of residents who lived in the flats.

“The people were not satisfied with the answers,” he told reporters. “The people were getting frustrated and they walked towards the building. They did not force themselves inside. They got inside the main building and were in the foyer, just speaking.”

Police then arrived on the scene and formed a barricade, which Mr. Al Mansur said led to “physical confrontation” between the two sides.

There were then angry scenes outside the Clement James Centre, in North Kensington, where the meeting with the prime minister and residents of the tower had been held.

Dozens of demonstrators surged towards the entrance and there were scuffles outside as organisers appealed for calm.

Mrs. May had faced criticism for not meeting with survivors in the immediate aftermath, unlike Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

Mrs. May has sanctioned £5m for clothes, food and emergency supplies while the death toll has risen to at least 30.

The £5m Grenfell Tower Residents’ Discretionary Fund, announced by Mrs. May, includes the aim to rehouse residents within three weeks as close to where they lived before as possible, to pay for temporary housing in the meantime and to provide extra financial assistance.

Asked about the reaction of the crowd, Mrs. May defended the government’s response.

“What I am now absolutely focused on is ensuring we get that support on the ground.

“The government is making money available, we are ensuring we are going to get to the bottom of what has happened, we will ensure that people are rehoused. We need to make sure that actually happens.” she said.

Large crowds of people also gathered in Westminster and made their way to Downing Street.

The crowd was heard chanting, “Justice for Grenfell”, along with anti-government slogans, including “May must go” and “blood on your hands”.

A march started making its way down Whitehall but was halted by a cordon of police officers outside Downing Street itself.

It then made its way to Oxford Circus where demonstrators held a sit-down protest, blocking all the traffic.

Those missing could number about 70, with the 30 likely to be among that number. Three of those who died have been identified.

There was nothing to suggest the fire was started deliberately, police said.

 

Zainab Sa’id