UK police arrest six men over burning of Grenfell Tower effigy

Condemnation as video on social media shows laughing men burning a model of building in which 71 died in a blaze.

Grenfell Tower
The men, whose ages range from 55 to 19, were arrested on suspicion of a public order offence [Cathal McNaughton/Reuters]

London police arrested six men over a video showing a cardboard model of Grenfell Tower being burned – an act condemned by bereaved families and survivors of the apartment-block blaze that killed 71 people.

British police arrested six men after a video was posted on the internet showing men laughing and mocking the deadly Grenfell Tower blaze.

They were released on Tuesday, but remain under investigation, according to a police statement.

The video showed a cardboard model of the tower with cutouts of residents in the windows being set alight on a bonfire, while those watching made jokes.

Khadijah Mamudu, whose mother and younger brother escaped the firestorm, called the burning of the model a “vile act”.

Grenfell Tower – a social housing block that was home to a close-knit, ethnically diverse community – was engulfed by flames in the middle of the night of June 14, 2017, the country’s deadliest domestic fire since World War II.

“To disrespect those who lost their lives at Grenfell Tower, as well as their families and loved ones, is utterly unacceptable,” Prime Minister Theresa May said on Twitter.

Police said the men, whose ages range from 55 to 19, had been arrested on suspicion of a public order offence after handing themselves over at a police station in south London.

Police Commander Stuart Cundy, who is leading the investigation into the Grenfell disaster, said he was “frankly appalled by the callous nature” of the video.

In the recording, onlookers can be heard saying: “Help me! Help me!”, “Jump out the window!” and “That’s what happens when they don’t pay their rent.”

The Grenfell United organisation for survivors and the bereaved, tweeted: “It’s a disgusting video. Not only is it extremely upsetting to survivors and people who lost family, it’s hateful and offensive to everyone that has been affected.”

Judge Martin Moore-Bick, who is leading an inquiry into the blaze, said it was “shocking and distressing to all those involved”.

Across Britain in early November, towns and villages hold annual firework parties and burn effigies of Guy Fawkes, the Roman Catholic plotter who tried to blow up parliament in 1605.

Larger celebrations often burn celebrity figures with effigies of flamboyant ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson being torched at a number of events this year, while previous targets have included US President Donald Trump.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies