Five men have been arrested in connection with an investigation into a video showing the burning of an effigy of Grenfell Tower.
The Metropolitan Police said the men – two aged 49 and the rest aged 19, 46 and 55 – handed themselves in at a south London police station at 10pm on 5 November. They were arrested on suspicion of a public order offence and taken into custody.
Footage emerged online showing a large flammable model marked ‘Grenfell Tower’, complete with paper figures at the windows, being set on fire.
Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the ‘utterly unacceptable’ video, while Khadijah Mamudu, whose mother and younger brother escaped the fire, said the burning of the effigy was a ‘vile act’.
Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy, who is leading the investigation into the Grenfell Tower tragedy, said he was ‘frankly appalled by the callous nature’ of the video.
London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton, who was at the scene of the harrowing blaze, said the video was ‘appalling and disturbing’. Moyra Samuels, part of the Justice For Grenfell campaign group, spoke of the outrage ‘right across the country, of ordinary decent people who actually saw it for what it was’.
She told BBC Breakfast it was ‘a disgusting attack on vulnerable people’, adding: ‘We have no doubt that there are actually decent, generous people across Britain and this actual act doesn’t represent ordinary British people.
‘But there is a worrying rise of racism in this country at the moment. And that is concerning, because it’s now starting to impact on us directly, you know, which means that we actually need to be thinking what we do about this, and how we respond to this as a whole.’
A total of 72 people perished as a result of the tragedy at the west London block on 14 June 2017. In the clip posted online, raucous laughter can be heard off-camera as the effigy is set alight.
A ‘sickening act of hate’
A person can be heard saying: ‘Didn’t it start from the tenth floor, though?’, while others add: ‘Help me! Help me!’ and ‘Jump out the window!’
Another says: ‘Here we go,’ as the fire takes hold. At the end of the clip, someone else can be heard saying: ‘That’s what happens when they don’t pay their rent.’
The video ends as the model is completely consumed by the fire, with one bystander saying: ‘Perfect.’
Campaigners described the video as a ‘sickening act of hate’. Natasha Elcock, from Grenfell United, said: ‘It’s a disgusting video. We hope that the police are taking this seriously’, while Justice4Grenfell said it ’caused great alarm and distress’.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said he ‘utterly’ condemned the ‘sickening’ video, describing the Grenfell Tower fire as ‘one of the most devastating tragedies our city has ever suffered’.