Police are urging witnesses to come forward after a “stomach-churning” video emerged of a group of people setting a cardboard mock-up of Grenfell Tower on fire.
The Metropolitan Police was urged by social media users to investigate the incident as a possible hate crime, after the three-minute clip started being shared on social media.
In it, a group of men and women can be seen laughing as they spark a bonfire and carry the tower, which features drawings of trapped residents in windows, into the flames.
It is not yet known who made the video, when, or where it was filmed, yet it appears to have been taken down from several Facebook and Twitter accounts on which it was shared.
Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the video, saying: “To disrespect those who lost their lives at Grenfell Tower, as well as their families and loved ones, is utterly unacceptable.”
Commander Stuart Cundy, who is leading the force’s Grenfell Tower investigation, said he was “appalled” by the “callous” clip.
He said in a statement: “A total of 71 people died in the fire at Grenfell Tower, so many people lost so many loved ones, and many more have been deeply affected. 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.
“The Met’s Grenfell Tower investigation team is taking this matter very seriously. Any offences that have been committed will be fully investigated.
“If you have information about this gathering, or were present, please contact police via 101 or @MetCC.”
Warning: distressing content below.
Various male voices are heard making cruel quips about the tragedy, which took hold of the west London block on June 14 last year, killing 71 people and a claiming a further life in hospital months later.
One can be heard saying “stay in your flat”, apparently a reference to the official stay-put policy for residents of the block, which has come under criticism since the blaze.
Residents were told to stay in their flats until nearly two hours after the fire broke out, an ongoing inquiry into the tragedy heard in September.
Another member of the bonfire group can be heard saying that the fire “started on the 10th floor” and that they should have placed the box “upside down”.
Several onlookers can be heard shouting “help me, help me” and making siren sounds.
London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton, who was at the scene of the fatal fire, condemned the “disturbing” clip. “This is an appalling and disturbing video,” she said.
“To intentionally use and mock the Grenfell Tower fire in this way will cause deep pain and offence to the bereaved, survivors, the local community and all of the emergency services who will never forget that night.
“It cannot be justified on any level.”
Justice 4 Grenfell, a campaign group honouring the victims, condemned the move as a “sickening act of hate”.
“We are disgusted and shocked at the inhumanity and callousness of those involved in this video.
“This was an unnecessary sickening act of hate against those who, through no fault of their own, have experienced the worst since 14th June 2017.
“This is clearly a hate crime and as a society we should never tolerate these types of blatant acts of hatred.”
The group also called out social media platforms for their lack of “moral responsibility” over not removing the video.
“We have an expectation that the Police will look into this robustly and that the perpetrators will face the full force of the law,” they added.
Kay Oldroyd, one of the people who posted the video on Twitter, said: “I want these beasts prosecuted. Flying the English flag and enjoying a good old laugh at the expense of 100′s of lives who died in the most horrific way.
“This is the sick mentality of racist, bigoted individuals. As much as I hate to share this video I want them identified.”
Another Twitter user responded: “Now I think these people are sick and I think this is absolutely disgusting but a hate crime? Unfortunately it’s just really bad taste.”
If you know anything about where the video originally came from or who is in it, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.