Already, the inquiry has shown that the word is too passive to explain what happenedby Maya Goodfellow / June 5, 2018 / Leave a comment
As quickly as Grenfell became national news, it disappeared from view. Now, almost a year since the blaze engulfed the tower block in west London and killed 72 people and injuring many others, the Grenfell Inquiry has brought it back into public consciousness. Where it belongs.
It remains to be seen if this public examination sufficiently lays out all of the realities of events surrounding the fire, and survivors should be the final judges of its effectiveness. But even before the inquiry is over, you only need to listen to the people who were repeatedly ignored before this preventable atrocity happened to understand the deeply political nature of what happened at Grenfell.
For days, survivors and the families of people who had been killed gave moving, painful testimony. “I understand acutely the pain of those speaking out about their loss,” Doreen Lawrence, who spent years campaigning for justice her son Stephen, said.
“Sitting in a public inquiry day after day, talking about your own grief while the world watches, is a very difficult thing to do. I know it really took its toll on me.”
Having to bear witness through testimony is an important way of remembering the people who were killed on that night—people like Mary Mendy and her celebrated artist daughter, Khadija Saye, and Fathia Ali Ahmed Elsanosi, a teacher who came to the UK seek asylum. But it also a comment on the society that allowed this to happen.
As well as the unimaginable horror of that night, these painful testimonies were offered to a system that ignored people who raised concerns. Some of the people who were remembered last week were those who were demanding change: Mariem Elgwahry and Nadia Choucair are thought to have been called troublemakers for campaigning to make the block safer. It was only when they were killed that residents finally began to be heard.
Edward Daffarn, who co-authored the Grenfell Action Blog that gave the chillingly prophetic warning that a scandal like this might happen months before it did, predicted of the inquiry: “Every single link in this chain is going to be found to be rotten and cancerous.”
He pointed to each layer of government that had turned its back on residents, from the national government not putting…