x

Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Famous London Carnival goes green in memory of Grenfell fire victims

As the parade goes past the site of the disaster, sound systems will be switched off as a mark of respect

LONDON. 30th August 2010. NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL. Feather headresses at the Notting Hill Carnival, Europe's largest street festival.  Stephen Lock for The National  FOR ARTS & LIFE
LONDON. 30th August 2010. NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL. Feather headresses at the Notting Hill Carnival, Europe's largest street festival. Stephen Lock for The National FOR ARTS & LIFE

The Grenfell Tower disaster is set to be the focus of Europe's biggest street festivals, the Notting Hill Carnival, not least because the burnt-out tower block will loom in the background as revellers make their way through the streets.

As the parade goes past the site of the disaster, sound systems will be switched off as a mark of respect for those affected by the fire, which killed 80 people.

Grenfell Tower stands in Ladbroke Grove in the Kensington and Chelsea area of London where carnival floats, dancers and musicians have paraded through the streets since the festival began in 1966.

Campaign groups for Grenfell that were set up in the wake of the blaze on June 14, are urging carnival-goers to “go green for Grenfell” in solidarity with those affected by the disaster.

“In the weeks following the fire, local school children decided to wear green as a sign of remembrance for their friends and family members from Grenfell. The community now wants to expand this theme to Notting Hill Carnival with the wider community of Carnival attendees following suit,” a spokesperson for the community explained.

“Members of the North Kensington community are encouraging all attendees at this year’s event to come as green as they can: green T-shirts, jumpsuits, shorts, trainers, socks, bandanas, hair, flags, hats.”

There will also be a minute’s silence for people to remember the victims at 3pm on both Sunday and Monday of the two-day festival, which falls on a public holiday weekend in Britain.

Meanwhile it emerged on Thursday that businesses in Notting Hill had been warned by police to expect troublemakers using the Grenfell tragedy as a pretext for causing problems at the event. As business owners prepared to shutter their premises against crime and anti-social behaviour, some said the police had warned them that outsiders were targeting the festival, which attracts two million people every year.

“I’ve been told by the police there probably will be trouble, relevant to Grenfell. They reckon it will be external. Not from the people living here,” one business owner said. “I imagine it will be left-wing protesters. They also think gangs and things will be more emphasised.”

London's police force, the Metropolitan Police (usually abbreviated to he Met) , said more officers would be deployed around the site of the tower to ensure “the security of the Grenfell Tower site is maintained and to protect the many items and memorials that have been placed near to Grenfell Tower”.

The police on Tuesday announced they carried out two intelligence-led operations in the boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea and Lewisham (south-east London), arresting more than 30 people.

“Today's operation is aimed at ensuring that those who intend to cause trouble at Carnival are prohibited from doing so,” said Chief Superintendent Robyn Williams, the police spokesperson for Notting Hill Carnival. "We are committed to ensuring that Carnival remains a safe, vibrant and enjoyable event. Troublemakers are not welcome.”

However, the Metropolitan Police were criticised after sharing a picture of an alleged package of heroin found during a raid in Catford (an hour’s drive away from Notting Hill) on Twitter and connecting it with the event.

“In the run up to #NottingHillCarnival, officers have this morning seized what is believed to be a kilo of uncut heroin in #Catford,” the force tweeted.

Human Rights activist Lee Jasper accused the Met of “racial profiling” in making the connection between the discovery and the festival, which is a celebration of London’s Caribbean communities, cultures and traditions, while grime artist Stormzy asked: “How many drugs did you lot seize in the run up to Glastonbury [a major pop festival] or we only doing tweets like this for black events?”

Statistically Notting Hill Carnival is about as safe as Glastonbury Festival, which takes place in south-west England in June. In 2015, 135,000 people attended Glastonbury and police made 75 arrest, compared to 735 arrests being made at Carnival, which has an attendance capacity of over ten times as many.