Five arrested over ‘vile’ Grenfell Tower bonfire video
Footage shows laughing crowd setting cardboard model of block alight and shouting ‘Help me’
Five men have been arrested in connection with the burning of a Grenfell Tower effigy at a Bonfire Night party.
An investigation was launched after a video - described as “vile” by Scotland Yard - was posted online showing a laughing crowd throwing the cardboard model on a fire in what appears to be someone’s back garden, with a English flag mounted on a flag pole in the background. Jeering bystanders can be heard shouting, “Help me, help me!” and “Jump out the window!”, reports the BBC.
One partygoer moves one of several cut-outs of people at windows on the effigy, which is clearly labelled “Grenfell Tower”, adds The Guardian. Most of these cut-outs “appeared to have been coloured brown”, the newspaper notes.
Meanwhile, someone shouts to “stay in your flat, we are coming to get you” - an apparent reference to the stay-put policy that may have cost lives in the fire at the West London residential block on 14 June 2017.
Someone else can be heard saying: “That’s what happens when they don’t pay their rent.”
The five suspects - two aged 49 and the others aged 19, 46 and 55 - handed themselves in to a south London police station on Monday night.
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. Under the act, racially or religiously aggravated offences carry a prison sentence of up to two years, a fine or both.
Prime Minister Theresa May was among the first to condemn the video, which she described as “utterly unacceptable”.
Issuing a plea for information, Metropolitan Police commander Stuart Cundy, who is leading the investigation into the Grenfell fire, said he was “appalled by the callous nature” of the video.
Campaign group Grenfell United has also condemned the video as “disgusting”.
“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,” a spokesperson said.
A total of 72 people died as a result of the tower block fire, which is believed to have been started by a malfunctioning fridge-freezer on the fourth floor. The inquest into their deaths is ongoing.