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Grenfell Tower Fire: Protesters Storm Kensington Town Hall Demanding Answers

17/06/2017 2:22 AM AEST | Updated 17/06/2017 7:02 AM AEST

Protesters have stormed Kensington Town Hall, chased Theresa May from the borough and marched on Downing Street, in a fraught evening of anger over the Grenfell Tower fire.

Fury has built over the failure to prevent the blaze that gutted the high-rise building on Wednesday morning, killing at least 30 people, injuring scores and leaving many homeless.

Protesters gained entry to Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council’s offices, demanding answers, and were confronted by police late on Friday afternoon.

At the same time, May’s motorcade was chased from a church near the scene of the fire by residents angry over her response to the disaster.

During the demonstration at the council office, one woman shouted at the crowd: “Because it’s an estate block Theresa May doesn’t give a shit. They don’t care. They don’t care.”

Dan Kitwood via Getty Images
Protesters inside the town hall

As the long and complex process of identifying victims and recovering bodies continues, the death toll has been revised with warnings it will continue to rise.

The council has been the focus of particular ire, including over questions of where it will resettle those who have lost their homes. 

Carrying pictures of the missing and signs demanding an inquest, protesters forced their way inside the local authority’s office.

Watch HuffPost UK’s video from the scene:

PA Wire/PA Images
Police officers inside the building, guard against the demonstration outside

Police moved in to secure the building and blocked the main entrance and reportedly sought to evacuate the building.

Around 350 protesters gathered outside as a confrontational atmosphere took hold.

Shortly after the demonstration began, its organiser Mustafa Mansour addressed the crowd through a loudspeaker.

He said he had just met with the council’s head of communications and asked for reassurances those hundreds left homeless would be housed within the borough.

The council had said it would rehouse people “as locally as possible”, he told the crowd.

As he spoke, chants began of “not 17” - questioning the death toll, which was previously said to be 17 but has been repeatedly revised upwards as authorities warn it will continue to rise.

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images
People gather outside Kensington Town Hall to demand justice for those affected by the fire that gutted Grenfell Tower
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images
A woman holds up placards

The death toll has been increasingly revised upward and itself become hugely controversial, with some claiming it is being deliberately downplayed. 

The crowd demanded a representative of the council address them but no one appeared.

A group of around 20 police officers kept a distance as the demonstration continued. Mounted police later arrived and arrests were made. There was a scuffle at one point but the demonstration remained relatively peaceful.

Singer Lily Allen, who lives locally and has accused authorities of trying to “micro-manage grief” by downplaying the death toll, was among the protesters.

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images
Lily Allen at the protest

Police have warned they may not be able to identify all of the victims and the fire brigade has said it does not expect to find more survivors.

More than 70 people are still missing.

DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images
A man carries a picture of a missing person on his back at the protest
Toby Melville / Reuters
The crowd outside the town hall

The council office demonstration came as angry people chased after May’s car, shouting “coward” after her meeting with fire victims at St Clements Church close to Grenfell Tower.

When she left, she walked briskly straight from the church door to the car.

Police had to form a wall between the people and her entourage, as the angry crowd booed and threw insults.

Officers shouted at people to stand back while demonstrators shouted at the prime minister: “We don’t want you here. Go go!” One man shouted: “Fuck off you slag.”

Another man shouted: “You get back to your friends in the DUP.”

Later, protesters marched from the Department for Communities and Local Government in Marsham Street, Westminster, through Parliament Square and on to Whitehall and then Downing Street.

Shouting “Justice for Grenfell!” and “May Out!”, the march was orderly despite brief scuffles with police when it arrived outside No.10.

Carl Court via Getty Images
Protesters march on Downing Street
Carl Court via Getty Images

A buffer zone guarded by metal railings and lines of police officers greeted the demonstrators, who continued to chant at the gates outside the Prime Minister’s official residence. It was unclear whether May was inside or had been whisked to her Maidenhead constituency.

The town hall protest later marched to the charred remains of the tower.

Protests also reached the BBC, bizarrely, as people chanted “blood, blood is on your hands” and police formed another wall to protecting the building. 

Carl Court via Getty Images
Police Officers stand guard outside Broadcasting House

Elsewhere, HuffPost UK’s Paco Anselmi filmed residents arguing over what the protesting would achieve.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/grenfell-tower-fire-kensington-town-hall_uk_5943f9b4e4b01eab7a2d3688?utm_hp_ref=uk

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