In what has been termed by some as the worst fire disaster in London history, an inferno engulfed the Grenfell Tower block and claimed the lives of more than 79 residents and left hundreds homeless. The blaze opened a Pandora’s box of potential safety shortcuts, ignored calls for precautionary improvements, and a cover-up among building contractors tasked with ensuring that the residence was livable.  

FILE- In this June 14, 2017 file photo, smoke rises from a 24-story high-rise apartment building on fire in London. Fire safety experts say despite that outcome, “stay put” is still the best advice if fire breaks out in a different part of a high rise building. The recommend sheltering in place as long as the building has proper fire suppression protections, like a sprinkler system, fireproof doors and flame-resistant construction materials. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

Labour MP David Lammy told SKY News that the fire, which spread through the 24-story West London building, was not only preventable, but had been repeatedly raised by tenants to the housing authority.

“You’ve got to understand that if you’ve watched a building burn down and you know that you’ve reported to the TMO that runs the building on many occasions that you believe there is a fire hazard, and you’ve been badly supported by the local authority, trust is low,” Lammy said.  

Tanesha Shabazz, who lives a few blocks from Grenfell, told the AFRO that while renovations to the building and many towers and council housing like it have been initiated over the years, management of such properties often discount concerns of residents who they view as working-class or poor.

“There is this idea that when a person living in council housing reports an incident, it is just to create problems or that the people don’t deserve comfortable, clean, and safe living,” Shabazz, a third-generation Jamaican migrant told the AFRO. “In many ways, it is like your Hurricane Katrina where the people living in the area warned of potential problems and no one listened.  When the flooding killed people, everyone responsible for not listening, ran and hid.”

Shabazz said that the first responders to the inferno were actually, Muslim youth leaving mosque, who ran into the building and began knocking on doors, and helping to carry out the elderly and infirm.

Journalist Owen Jones reported that the largely minority, immigrant, and working-class residents of Grenfell have been largely ignored or vilified for years when demanding improvements.

“It’s a damning indictment of the type of society in which we live.  They are working class, immigrants, or minority and the sorts who have been systematically ignored by media and politicians, who vilify people living in tower blocks or on estates,” Jones said.  “There were public pleadings with local councils about the huge safety problems.  This was not a natural disaster – and year after year it was predicted by residents.  It is not just a tragedy, but also a crime.”

Prime Minister Theresa May faced cries of “coward,” “help us,” and “shame on you” as she left St. Clement’s Church after meeting survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster on June 19, but the Prime Minister says she is doing everything she can to offer assistance to those affected, in calling for a full investigation of the blaze.

“The inquiry will be open and transparent. Government and ministers will cooperate fully. I anticipate the name of the judge will be announced within the next few days and that an open meeting will be held with residents to help shape the terms of reference.”  

But, for many, May’s comments offered little in the way of comfort. “The reality is that had these been luxury flats, would the residents have been ignored?” Jones said.

The Queen, Prince William, and Lord Lieutenant of Greater London Ken Olisa toured a temporary shelter for Grenfell survivors on June 16.  May met survivors at Downing Street, the U.K. equivalent of the White House. Olisa described the Queen as “emotional” and “tearful” while meeting with volunteers and displaced families.    

“Put to the test, the United Kingdom has been resolute in the face of adversity. United in our sadness, we are equally determined, without fear or favour, to support all those rebuilding lives so horribly affected by injury and loss,” she said following the visit.

A delegation of Grenfell residents presented a list of demands and commitments to the Prime Minister’s office on June 16, which included: 1. Written commitment from the council on the immediate rehousing of all the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, within the borough. 2. Immediate release of funds to cover costs of welfare and all losses suffered by the victims; and 3. Commission investigation into the recent £10m refurbishment project on the same tower, and prosecute those who failed to install adequate health and safety measures and equipment at the building.