London Fashion Week: Grenfell activists take to runway to demand justice for victims

72 people died in the Grenfell Tower fire

Chelsea Ritschel
Friday 15 February 2019 17:27
Activists demand justice for Grenfell at London Fashion Week

Justice4Grenfell (J4G) activists have descended on London Fashion Week to raise awareness to the lack of progress into the investigation of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

In 2017, a fire engulfed the residential west London Grenfell Tower, claiming the lives of 72 people.

On Friday, nearly two years after the tragedy, activists took to the stage at 180 The Strand with the help of 72 models including Adwoa Aboah and Clara Paget, volunteers, bereaved family members, and other celebrities. The volunteers represented the 72 victims who lost their lives in the tragedy.

In addition to honouring victims, the activists wanted the protest to serve as a reminder of the fact more needs to be done to prevent a similar tragedy from happening in the future.

The group’s poignant message was emblazoned on the protest t-shirts they wore at London Fashion Week, which read: “72 dead and still no arrests? How come?”

“We wanted to create a design that remembered and honoured the people who died at Grenfell Tower, and to serve as a reminder of why we continue to campaign as a community,” the shirt’s designers Grenfell Speaks and SplitSquare Design said in the press release.

The message printed on t-shirts was the same as the one used in a J4G protest that took place in February of last year, which saw activists recreate a scene from the film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri by driving billboards around London that read: “71 dead and still no arrests? How come?” The 72nd victim died eight months after the fire.

Of Friday’s campaign, Yvette Williams, the J4G campaign coordinator, said: “London Fashion week is a perennial event in the international calendar and highlights the world talent, creativity and inspiration in our diverse city.

“The fire at Grenfell Tower is the unfashionable side of London where 72 people needlessly lost their lives. Their deaths will not be in vain.

“We are honoured to be part of LFW that will assist our campaign in keeping a global focus on what happened at Grenfell and to support the bereaved families in their continued fight for truth and justice.

“The accountable authorities have been inadequate and tardy in their response and 20 months on; no significant changes or improvements have been made and no one to date has been held responsible. These factors and issues are fundamental to ensuring that nothing like this is ever allowed to happen again.”

According to J4G, there are still “hundreds of buildings with flammable cladding” and “developers and local authorities are consistently ignoring the London Fire Brigade’s advice that sprinklers are crucial in their buildings”.

The group also advocates on behalf of those affected by the fire, many of whom J4G claims have not been adequately rehoused.

After the fire, it was announced that a public inquiry would take place to explain why the 24-storey building was wrapped in combustible cladding.

However, it was revealed in December 2018 that the next phase of the inquiry had been delayed and may not take place until 2020, The Guardian reports.

As of now, no one has been held accountable for the fire, according to J4G.

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