Grenfell Tower 'day of rage' protest coincides with Queen's speech

Downing Street marchers seek to ‘bring down government’ as Theresa May’s legislative agenda is unveiled

Protesters calling for local housing for the displaced residents of Grenfell Tower are preparing to march against Theresa May’s government on Wednesday amid appeals to ensure that their grievances are not overshadowed by violence.

A number of protests including a “day of rage” are to be held to coincide with the Queen’s speech, the formal unveiling of the government’s legislative agenda.

As part of the “day of rage” demonstration, organised by Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessary (MFJ), protesters will march to Downing Street at 1pm as they aim to “bring down the government” over its response to the Grenfell Tower fire.

Asked about his support for the demonstrations, the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, said he backed the right to take direct action, but only if it was peaceful.

“I believe you have the legitimate right to demonstrate and protest, but it has to be peaceful,” he said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “And you have the right, therefore, to change government and change government as a result of that.”

Asked about whether in the past he had backed the idea of “insurrection”, he said: “What I said then is that in the old days they used to call it insurrection. We now call it direct action.“Today, people have got the right to be angry. What they haven’t got is the right to be violent.”

The demonstrations are to take place on the day the prime minister sets out her legislative programme for the next two years in a Queen’s speech expected to be dominated by Brexit.

Referencing the Grenfell Tower fire and “brutal austerity, cuts and anti-immigrant attacks”, the description on the MFJ event page reads: “Politicians and many community and religious leaders will be looking to divert our rage and fury into inquiries, investigations, reports, court hearings, and parliamentary processes.

“We will not accept those brush-offs and diversions, we will not settle for less than the destruction of May’s coalition of austerity and bigotry – we must bring down this government.”

Protest route

Organisers are seeking the permanent right to remain in the UK for all Grenfell Tower residents, and for survivors to take over unoccupied flats in Kensington and Chelsea.

Attendees have been urged to keep their activities peaceful, amid concerns that the disaster may be hijacked for violence.

Mahad Egal, a fourth-floor resident of the tower who was forced to flee the fire, said in a video posted on social media that any violence would “disgrace” the victims.

“I know this is a frustrating time,” he said in the clip. “But I would just like to send a message out: please, to all those protesting, we don’t need no violence in the community, we do not want that in our name.

“Please make sure it is a peaceful protest so that the people and the victims of Grenfell, the survivors of Grenfell, can all be heard.”

The Clement James Centre, which has been helping Grenfell Tower residents, said: “There has been a ‘day of rage’ announced for Wednesday, trying to bring London to a standstill.

“We cannot emphasise enough how against this many of the affected residents we’ve spoken to are and they do not want their grief hijacked for any violent or destructive means.”

Other events include a demonstration organised by Stand Up to Racism at 6pm called: “Protest the Queen’s speech – no to May/DUP racism & bigotry!”

London Socialist party is hosting a Facebook event called “May Must Go! Protest the Queen’s Speech” which is scheduled for 4pm.


Jamie Grierson

The GuardianTramp

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