|RT | Jun 17, 2017|
Hundreds of people gathered outside the town hall building chanting, "We want justice," and "Bring them out." The protesters demanded to know the true number of people who died in the fire.
Their demands also included a written commitment from the council that all those affected by the fire will be rehoused and relocated within the borough and an immediate release of funds to cover the loss and welfare of the victims.
“Some protesters got a bit heated and people were starting pushing around at the entrance of the town hall,” he told RT, adding that he saw “an AFP staff photographer getting attacked and pushed to a wall by the crowd” and attempted to get closer to the assaulted man when he was “suddenly attacked from behind.”
“Somebody tried to grab my camera from my hands and pull me down to the bottom. People started actually kicking on me and started kicking on my head and on my camera,” the producer said.
The producer managed to record the moment of the attack. In a video, one can see as someone kicks the producer’s camera as well as angry protesters rushing towards him.
However, other protesters quickly came to the journalist’s rescue and tried to “build a circle” around him as well as to “push [the attackers] back until one police officer moved in and took me to a safe spot inside the council” building.
“If it was not for the protesters, who tried to build a circle around me and the police officer, I might have suffered heavier injuries,” the producer admitted, adding that he escaped the beating lightly and even the camera seemed to be still working.
There have also been other reports about journalists being targeted by the angry crowd.
At least 30 people have so far been confirmed dead in the fire, with the figure still expected to rise. The tower block housed up to 600 residents, with dozens evacuated by firefighters and hospitalized, while an unknown number of others became stuck on upper floors as the only way out of the building, the stairwell, was filled with heavy smoke. A large portion of the tower became engulfed in flames in just minutes, with the newly-installed cladding cited as suspected cause of the rapid spread. Multiple reports cite a faulty fridge in a 44-year-old taxi driver’s flat as the origin of the fire. The man, originally from Ethiopia, reportedly alerted his neighbors.
The tower had a long history of fire safety concerns, with the residents directly predicting a disaster waiting to happen and accusing the Kensington and Chelsea Tenants Management Organisation (KCTMO) of ignoring the facts. Fire alarms did not reportedly go off on upper floors after the fire started, with many becoming aware of the blaze only after hearing screams outside. There were not sprinklers installed in the building, and the only way out was routinely hampered by old furniture and appliances.
In 2014, a leading British fire safety expert, Arnold Tarling, warned a meeting of the British Standards Institute that “this type of cladding fire” would soon take place in the UK and that it would lead to a large number of deaths. Complaints about basic fire safety violations have reportedly been ignored by the authorities for years, with reports suggesting responses such as “nothing could be done” were explained by fear “too many people” would have to move out of buildings breaching the standards.