A Kensington Town Hall Eyewitness


by Rosa Soros

We joined the gathering outside Kensington Town Hall which was occupied on Friday, June 16th by outraged people affected by Grenfell. We heard impassioned speeches from local residents, teachers, and members of the community who are in mourning but also righteously angry. Everybody there knows why this horrific fire happened, how it could have been prevented, and why still today the government is hesitant to release official numbers of victims who perished in their homes the night of the ferocious fire. This atrocity, which caused countless deaths, many to flee for their lives, throw their children from their flats desperately to save them, sacrifice their own lives for their families, children waking up in hospital screaming in terror because the last thing they remember was being in the pit of a burning inferno surrounded by the smell of charring bodies and the weeps of sobbing victims who have realised their worth to the state: this atrocity was no accident. We began marching in defiance, through the affluent areas of West London where many international playboys have their holiday homes, and where many luxury houses lay empty. We shouted “We’re coming for your houses!” as posh onlookers stood awkwardly gawking and embarrassed.

Reports were coming in that other demonstrations were taking place, one started in Westminster but dominated, predictably, by the rape apologist Trot cult, Socialist Worker’s Party. Like the grief vultures they are they will undoubtedly tack on to a community in mourning and attempt to recruit off of this atrocity. They are not comrades of the working class, not least of all to women and survivors of sexual violence. I felt relieved to have made the right choice in joining the demonstration led by the community affected by this horrific fire. Any attempts by the few Trot-organisers on our demo who tried to intervene was quickly drowned out by the angry locals.

As we grew closer to the site the walls were plastered with posters of those still missing. We heard the wails of some of the mothers on the march who began to sob, shouting curses to the sky, asking God why something like this was allowed to happen. The mood of the march tempered as the remains of Grenfell tower came into view. A somber chill fell onto the crowd. It was ghostly, eerie, strange: this was the first I’d seen Grenfell tower after the fire for myself and not in a picture. You could still smell the smoke in the air and it was suffocating.

The sadness soon turned to rage as we grew closer and saw the police protecting – what? What were they protecting? It was a little fucking late for them to suddenly give a shit about the community who the state would rather push out to the pockets of the the city, who the rich do not want to look at. It was clear that the police took a stand-off approach when we were marching through the richer areas. They didn’t want to cause any undue stress on to the wealthy: just let them have their little march and then when they’re back in their own ends that’s where we will get em. And it didn’t take long for the righteous fury to take hold and the pigs to get mobbed. Local youth, who were the angriest because they haven’t had a lifetime of being eaten and spat out by the system, were proactive and impressive. Until the self-appointed community leaders (all men) tried to tame them, shouting “we want peace” which took hold in the demo and things were tempered as protesters chanted “peace peace peace!”. This was infuriating to watch. The state forfeited their right to peace when they let hundreds of poor die in a tower block because they value the lives of the wealthy, and because this is the easiest way to enact their programme of social cleansing. So no, we don’t want peace, we want fucking justice.

As the march ended people weren’t ready to leave. Pockets of activity began organically taking shape, local residents on makeshift soap boxes expressing their anger, their pain, and their resolve. This was moving. The people are not going to let those responsible get away with the murder of their families and friends. This really feels like class war. People, of all different ethnicities and religions standing together, fighting together. The vigil started at 10PM, but many of the speakers, prayers and songs were drowned out by the rumbling of the police helicopter that refused to fuck off and let a community mourn. We sang together, we cried, we stood in silence too and let the events of the last week sink in. As the vigil came to an end I overheard local people saying “now the mourning is over it’s time for action.” The unyielding resolve of this community is sobering, inspiring, and gives me strength.

This is only the beginning. This was no accident and we are right to be angry, we want justice, and we want revenge.

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