Grime artiste Stormzy and singer Adele have both joined Grenfell survivors and supporters in a virtual memorial to mark the third anniversary of the fire which broke out in the early hours of 14 June 2017, and killed 72 people. Organised by support group Grenfell United, a memorial was streamed on Sunday evening with messages of support and a two-minute silence for those who died.
This year’s memorial was moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic. Adele, who has a house in nearby Notting Hill and visited Grenfell shortly after the fire, said in a video message: “I wanted to send my love to all of you today and let you know that I’m thinking of you as I always do.
There has never been a more appropriate time for us to truly exercise camaraderie and compassionADELE
“Even though we’re having to do this in the virtual world, online, 2020 zoom life as it is, it is still so important for us to mourn together, and for us to remember that night and to reflect on that and also reflect on where we are now.
“And also to celebrate the lives that were lived before sadly being taken that night.”
She added: “There has never been a more appropriate time for us to truly exercise camaraderie and compassion and open-mindedness and persistence. Persistence for answers, persistence for action.
“And it’s a scientific fact that human beings are not supposed to be left on our own.
“We need each other to survive and that is something that I truly see in action with the Grenfell community.”
The singer added that she was proud and inspired to be involved with Grenfell United “and to support your fight for true justice, and also for the protection of other people, other people that you don’t know and will never know”.
In Stormzy’s video message to the virtual memorial he said: “I said I was just gonna put the camera on and just talk from my heart instead of trying to prepare anything, I didn’t want this to sound like it came from anywhere other than my heart.
“To all the people of Grenfell, we’re still mourning with you, so to anyone watching this let’s use this time, let’s use today to stand in solidarity with them and say that we ain’t forgotten you. We love you, we’re here for you.
“When the Government and powers that be have turned their back on you, we’re here. We’re here, we’ve got you, we’re not letting this go. Because as much as my life’s moved on, your life’s moved on unless you had someone in that fire who you directly lost, whoever your family, your friend, your sister, your mother, your brother, your father, our lives have moved on but there is still a dark reality that these people have to face all the time, that Grenfell was still a reality for these people. It was just a day, it was just a week, it was just a month for us, it was a green heart, it was a badge, it was a tweet, but that’s still a dark reality for these people.”
When the Government and powers that be have turned their back on you, we’re here. We’re here, we’ve got you, we’re not letting this goSTORMZY
He said the people of Grenfell and west London had taken the tragedy and turned it into “togetherness and friendship and brotherhood and sisterhood and family”.
He continued: “Whenever it’s an anniversary or event I’m filled with so much love and joy because I’m just watching these people who have turned this tragedy into triumph and I’m just like this is one of the most remarkable, amazing things I’ve ever seen.
“Never forget what happened at Grenfell, please never ever forget. I love you guys and you lot inspire me because you lot have managed to remain so resilient in the face of the most darkest, darkest, darkest tragedy that people should never experience. I don’t know how we have the mental, emotional threshold for that but somehow you bunch of superheroes do and we love you guys, you’re legendary.”
During the online memorial, several families called for justice. A bereaved family member from Grenfell United, who did not want to give his name, said in one video: “We still don’t have all the answers but we know the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower was illegal and poorly executed, a preventable tragedy caused by cost-cutting with no regard for safety.
“Three years on, companies, corporations, national and local government want us to forget. They want to be forgotten but we will never forget.”
The second phase of the public inquiry into the fire is set to resume next month after being paused due to the pandemic.
The chairwoman of the Hillsborough Families Support Group, which was formed following the disaster in 1989 which killed 96 people, also gave her support to the Grenfell memorial. In a video message, Margaret Aspinall said: “I know at the moment it’s a hard struggle for you all as it has been for the Hillsborough families over 30-odd years. “I would ask you all please do not give up, no matter what happened, for the future or now.
“Please never give up, you will fight for what you believe in and you will eventually achieve the outcome that you rightfully deserve.”
Churches across London rang their bells 72 times to mark those who perished in the disaster, including St Paul’s Cathedral and St Clement, Notting Dale, the parish in which Grenfell Tower stands. From 10.30pm, people in homes across the UK were asked to shine a bright green light to show solidarity with the bereaved and survivors.
With additional reports from Press Association