'They let our children burn! They burned like animals in a building,' shout demonstrators, as they hand over a list of demands to council
16 June, 2017
Protesters have stormed Kensington Town Hall amid mounting anger over the official response to the deadly Grenfell Tower fire.
Hundreds of demonstrators chanting "justice" burst into the building, carrying a list of demands they said authorities must meet.
Other large protests later emerged in other parts of London, including hundreds elsewhere in Kensington and at least 1,400 people on Downing Street, according to organiser estimates.
Police, including a number of mounted officers, arrived at Kensington Town Hall after the disturbance.
Having initially entered the building, protesters were called back away from the foyer by an organiser, Mustafa Mansour, who urged them to remain calm.
A disturbance briefly broke out near a different exit to the building, reportedly as police tried to escort council staff out. Bystanders told The Independent that two people who emerged from the town hall were punched.
Pictures showed demonstrators confronting a man they purportedly believed to be Robert Black, the Chief Executive of KCTMO, the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation responsible for managing Grenfell Tower on behalf of the council.
Scores of people remained inside the Town Hall lobby, calling for councillors to face the crowd.
They shouted "we need answers" and "we need to be heard". A young woman at the top of the stairs urged peaceful protest.
"There's going to be no violence, but we're staying here until we get answers," she said.
The crowd then chanted: "We want justice" and "You left them there to die!"
The protesters then began to disperse from the building, but hundreds remained outside. Many had lived in the tower and lost family and friends.
Siar Naqshbandi, 30, lived on the third floor of Grenfall Tower, but his relatives lived on the 20th.
“There’s been no proper help,” he told The Independent. "The only help has been the emergency services and the community. We’ve not received anything.”
Prime Minster Theresa May’s quiet visit to Grenfall Tower – now called ‘Ground Zero’ by the community – had caused further anger.
“I didn’t know she came until I saw her on the news,” Mr Naqshbandi said. “When the Queen can walk in a crowded room, why can’t she [Theresa May]?”
Fazia Sheikh, 37, agreed: “Theresa May came just to show her face. She didn’t see anyone.”
Among the five demands handed by protesters to council officials, one asked the authority to guarantee all those left homeless by the deadly inferno be rehoused in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
On the Town Hall steps, Mr Mansour read out responses to the demands from the council, which stated those affected would be rehoused as near to the area as possible.
At least 30 people were killed in the devastating blaze at the 24-storey Grenfell tower block in west London. Twelve people remain in hospital, with dozens still thought to be missing.
“The government has been talking rubbish, lies,” continued Ms Sheikh, a resident of area for 30 years. She said she grew up with most of the people at the town hall demonstration.
“We will never know the truth,” she said. “If we do nothing now, if we get no answers, it will happen again."
“They think they can get away with it. It’s not fair, those are kids, families [in Grenfall Tower].
“They don’t realise how tight the community is. But we’re under so much pressure to leave, they’re putting the rent up. They want the area to be for the rich people.”
A council spokesman initially declined to comment on the action. A Met Police spokesman said no arrests were made at the Kensington town hall protest.
A police statement said: "At around 16:35hrs on Friday, 16 June, a number of individuals entered the public area of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall to protest.
"After a short period of time police and security escorted them out."
Grenfell fire protesters descend on Downing Street with chants of 'May must go'
Anger rising at government response to fire
16 June, 2017
Protesters angry at the response from Theresa May's Government to the Grenfell Tower fire disaster have descended on Whitehall, shouting: "May must go".
Hundreds of people marched to Downing Street from the Home Office headquarters with shouts of "blood on your hands" and demanding "justice for Grenfell".
Demonstrators also staged a sit-down protest in Oxford Circus and gathered outside Broadcasting House.
It followed a separate, smaller protest at Kensington Town Hall, where residents tried to air their grievances to councillors.
Another, larger protest also marched through west London, where hundreds of people headed to the burned-out building tower.
"We are here today because you must look at that building with tears streaming down your face," one woman told the group as they neared the foot of the tower.
Pausing, the hundreds fell silent for a moment before breaking into applause and cheers for those killed.
"We need answers and we need answers now," another man said through a megaphone.
"This should not be happening in the United Kingdom, this should never happen."
At least thirty people died in the blaze, and investigators expect the death toll to grow.
Anger has been rising at the government response to the fire, which is suspected to have been caused by non fire resistant cladding on the side of the building.
Despite initial government assurances, residents may be rehoused in other parts of London.
The Prime Minister made a commitment on Friday to rehouse victims of the tragedy within three weeks, adding that the cost of temporary accommodation will be met on their behalf.
After announcing a £5 million support package, Theresa May told Sky News: "We are committed to ensuring that people are rehoused as far as possible within the borough, or in neighbouring boroughs.
"Some people may actually want to go to another part of London where perhaps they have a greater support network, where perhaps they have friends and relatives.
"We are ensuring that within three weeks people will be rehoused so that they have a home to go to."