A video of burning effigies and a cardboard cutout of the Grenfell Tower have been circulating on social media. The video shows the replica burning with seemingly brown colored cutouts depicting what looks to be people of color stuck in the building.
Five men have been arrested in connection with the act depicting the West London Apartment building where 72 people died last year.
The London police have said the men, between the ages of 19 and 55, had been detained on suspicion of ‘a public order offense’ in what many are calling a callous and hateful act.
The anonymous video shows the mock building burning, with what seems to be people of color stuck in the buildings and mock screams from onlookers mimicking the alarm of real witnesses of the actual fire. It also depicts bystanders shouting “Help me, help me,” while one person mocks the stay-put policy of the London fire brigade, saying, “Don’t worry, stay in your flat.”
UK Prime Minister Theresa May called the act ‘utterly unacceptable.’
In a statement released on Monday, Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy appealed for information on the incident, adding that he is ‘appalled by the callous nature’ of the video.
‘To mock that disaster in such a crude way is vile. I can’t imagine the distress this video will undoubtedly cause to bereaved families and survivors,’ Cundy said.
London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton has also voiced concern over the video, calling it appalling and adding that the actions of those involved “cannot be justified on any level.’
‘To intentionally use and mock the Grenfell Tower fire in this way will cause deep pain and offense to the bereaved, survivors, the local community and all of the emergency services who will never forget that night,’ Cotton said.
Justice for Grenfell, a community-led organization set up after the tragedy, described the incident as a ‘sickening act of hate,’ and called for a robust police investigation.
‘The content of the video, that includes a replica model of Grenfell Tower and the burning of effigies, has caused great alarm and distress. We are disgusted and shocked at the inhumanity and callousness of those involved in this video,’ the organization said.
‘This is clearly a hate crime and as a society, we should never tolerate these types of blatant acts of hatred.’
London Mayor Sadiq Khan condemned the ‘sickening’ video, while UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid called those involved in the ‘disgusting, shameful’ incident a ‘disgrace.’
‘The survivors of the Grenfell tragedy have acted with unbelievable dignity and deserve the utmost respect,’ Javid added.
Echoing Javid’s sentiments, Member of Parliament for Tottenham David Lammy tweeted:
‘Effigies are for hate-figures not innocent victims of a national scandal. These thugs may fly the St George’s flag, but they disgrace our country.’
This makes me feel physically sick. 72 lost their lives because of Grenfell fire last year. One of those was a close personal friend. Effigies are for hate-figures not innocent victims of a national scandal. These thugs may fly the St George’s flag, but they disgrace our country. https://t.co/MK9Rz0NpYR
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) November 5, 2018