Grenfell Tower bonfire: Police search property

UK News
Grenfell effigy
Image caption The Justice4Grenfell campaign group said the video “has caused great alarm and distress”

A house linked to an “offensive” video showing a model of Grenfell Tower being burned on a bonfire has been searched by police.

Five men – two aged 49 and the others aged 19, 46 and 55 – were arrested on suspicion of a public order offence after handing themselves in.

A video shared on social media shows a cardboard model of the tower being set alight by a laughing crowd.

Prime Minister Theresa May had called the video “utterly unacceptable”.

The footage shows a large model bearing a Grenfell Tower sign, complete with paper figures at the windows, being set on fire.

Image caption Footage shows a large flammable model marked “Grenfell Tower” with paper figures at the windows, being set on fire

Laughter can be heard off camera as the effigy is set alight, with onlookers shouting “Help me! Help me!” and “Jump out the window!”.

As the blaze takes hold, a voice can be heard to say “All the little ninjas getting it at the minute” while the camera focuses on a paper cut-out with a face covering.

At the end of the clip a person can be heard saying: “That’s what happens when they don’t pay their rent.”

Grenfell fire: When does causing offence become a crime?

Police searched a house in South Norwood, south London, taking away two clear plastic bags which appeared to contain gaffer tape and white tags.

The officers were at the house for around two hours.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Police officers left the South Norwood property taking evidence

Rukayet Mamadu, a survivor of the fire, called the video the “climax of intolerance of the system and society”.

She told the Victoria Derbyshire programme: “It’s chilling, it’s cold-blooded. I feel so bad, let alone people who lost relatives.

“This should be brought to justice.”

A total of 72 people were killed in the devastating blaze at the west London tower block in June 2017.

The men have been arrested under section 4a of the Public Order Act 1986, which covers intentional “harassment, alarm or distress” caused via the use of “threatening, abusive or insulting” words or signs.

Offences committed on a private residence where a person “had no reason to believe” it would be “heard or seen by a person outside that or any other dwelling” are protected from prosecution under the act.

Image caption Moyra Samuels, from the Justice For Grenfell campaign group, called the video a “disgusting attack”

Moyra Samuels, part of the Justice For Grenfell campaign group, told the BBC the video was “a disgusting attack on vulnerable people”.

She added: “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, which means that we actually need to be thinking what we do about this, and how we respond to this as a whole.”

Natasha Elcock, from Grenfell United, said: “Not only is it extremely upsetting to survivors and people who lost family, it’s hateful and offensive to everyone that has been affected by the tragic events of that night.”

Sir Martin Moore-Bick, who is leading the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire, said he was “very pleased to hear the authorities are taking the matter seriously” at the start of Tuesday’s evidence session.

Under the Public Order Act, racially or religiously aggravated offences carry a prison sentence of up to two years, a fine or both.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46106224

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