Pin It

Hillsborough shows we need to stay angry about Grenfell

After three decades the families of the tragedy are starting to get answers, but we can’t and won’t let the victims of Grenfell wait so long for justice

Almost 30 years after the original tragedy, people who may have been responsible for the Hillsborough disaster and the subsequent mismanagement of the case are finally facing justice.

96 people were crushed to death in an overcrowded pen at the football game between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool in 1989, yet only today was David Duckenfield, the officer in charge of the match charged with manslaughter. Five other officers have also received a variety of charges including misconduct, and breaches of safety regulations.

While of course the news is a cause for celebration, there is no denying that the case has been an extremely hard, painful one to fight. The subsequent claims that police witness accounts were changed and the humiliating disregard for the families of the victims serves as an unsettling reminder of what those with power in this country are capable of – and not long after the Grenfell disaster, it is an unsettling parallel.

Those who lost loved ones in the crush battled for years against local police and newspapers like The Sun, who disgustingly blamed Liverpool supporters for being drunk and even accused them of stealing from the dead before leaving. The slow pace of justice in this case speaks volumes: when those in power fear blame they throw their weight behind protecting the perpetrators rather than honouring the victims.

When Labour claimed the country’s richest constituency for the first time with a majority of 20, the country was in shock. Some dubbed it ‘The People’s Republic of Kensington’, disbelieving that such a wealthy area could lurch to the left. It took a tragedy like Grenfell for many people in this country to realise the borough’s huge gulf between the super-rich and the poor, with the latter desperately wanting to be heard.

“The slow pace of justice in this case speaks volumes: when those in power fear blame they throw their weight behind protecting the perpetrators rather than honouring the victims”

It has been two weeks since Grenfell Tower’s devastating inferno that ripped the heart out of Kensington’s working class community, and fears are already growing that the disaster will soon cease to be newsworthy. The death toll has completely stagnated at 80 despite fears that it probably exceeded 120 (or far more), officials who threatened residents with legal action for daring to demand safer housing are silent, and the only person to have been arrested in the aftermath is a man who posted pictures of a victim’s body.

If the residents of Grenfell know anything already, it is that the odds are heavily stacked against them. Already well-versed in organising and campaigning for fair treatment and their letters, blogs and legal challenges falling on deaf ears many fear the same will happen again.

Three decades passed without sufficient answers for Hillsborough, but let today’s verdict be a lesson. Not only should this result inspire you to demand a swift and just verdict from an independent inquiry, you should keep asking questions. 

As residents’ groups are forced to compile their own lists of victims and survivors keep asking: why is there such a poor record of who made it out? When the building firm admitted that they chose flammable cladding for the tower’s deathly facelift to save £2 per square metre you have to ask, why was profit deemed more valuable than human life? And as the death toll climbs, and whole families remain unspoken for never forget how angry you are that nobody is yet to be charged with manslaughter for the biggest tragedy to happen in the UK in decades. Just as we needed justice for the 96, we need to all ask, who will be brought to justice for Grenfell?