Police are appealing for information about “vile” footage that has emerged of people laughing and jeering – as they burned an effigy of Grenfell Tower, mocking the people inside it.
The video, which has been shared online between groups on Whatsapp, appears to have been taken over the weekend, and shows people laughing as the cardboard ‘building’ went up in flames.
Police are appealing for anybody who has any information to contact the Met police.
The Metropolitan Police initially responded that although the image is in ‘poor taste’ no crime appears to have been committed.
A spokesperson for the Met Police initially said: “Although the image is in poor taste it does not appear that a criminal offence has been committed.”
He added that police could not looking into the act without knowing the location of where the incident took place.
But after the video went viral on Facebook and Twitter shared by outraged viewers who say the act is a ‘hate crime,’ Commander Stuart Cundy, who is leading the investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire issued a statement appealing for information about the “vile” video.
“I am frankly appalled by the callous nature of the video posted online. A total of 71 people died in the fire at Grenfell Tower, so many people lost loved ones, and many more have been deeply affected. To mock that disaster in such a crude way is vile, said Commander Cundy.
“I can’t imagine the distress this video will undoubtably 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 any information about this gathering, or were present, please contact police via 101 or @MetCC”
The Justice 4 Grenfell campaign which represents survivors of the tragedy insisted that the video is a “hate crime.”
A statement said: “This is clearly a hate crime and as a society we should never tolerate these types of blatant acts of hatred.”
The campaign added: “We have an expectation that the Police will look into this robustly and that the perpetrators will face the full force of the law.”
The Secretary of State for Communities, James Brokenshire MP, said:
“At a time when the bereaved and survivors are giving testimony to the Grenfell Inquiry and reliving the unimaginable horror of that tragedy, it beggars belief that anyone should do this.
“Those responsible for this repugnant material are beneath contempt. I know that the police have been made aware of this video and will work to establish whether any offences have been committed.
“I would urge people not to continue to share this video.”
In the footage, a group of people can be heard in the video jeering and laughing as a cardboard construction of the west London tower block is lifted onto two wooden slats over a burning bin.
An English flag can be seen on the fence behind the bonfire as the crowd laughs and jokes.
A woman is heard saying: “Bye everyone. Bye” as she helped lift it into the flames while other people joked about the tragedy that took the lives of 72 people in June last year.
Several people in the video appear to say that the effigy is ‘in bad taste’ but they are quickly cut short by the perpetrators.
Men can be heard making fun of the fire service’s infamous advice given to residents of the tower when the fire first broke out to stay in their flats.
A man said: “Stay in your flat we are coming to get ya” while another counsels the flat residents to ‘jump out the window’.
Another added: “We can go rob the bottom flats.”
One voice appears to be mocking residents of the tower who were stuck on their higher levels of the tower, and said in a high-pitched voice: “Help me, help me!”
As the paper figures in the tower are set alight one of the thugs added: “That’s what happens when they don’t pay their rent”
Words Joe Mellor & Adela Whittingham
Caution upsetting video – contact the Met police on 101 or @MetCC if you have any information about anyone who made it: