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THE Grenfell inquiry has been accused of racial stereotyping by survivors and victims' families, after it asked those attending to not bring knives.
People arriving at the hearings in London’s Paddington district must first put their belongings through a scanner and are informed by a security notice that weapons, including “knives, replica guns, hammers or wrenches,” cannot be taken into the building.
A Huffington Post report revealed today that these security measures were not in place at the inquiry into the infected blood scandal, which mostly affected white people.
Speaking to the news website, Justice4Grenfell campaigner Yvette Williams said: “I think it plays into racial stereotypes. It plays into class politics as well.
“There’s a feeling that we need a higher level of security, rather than the demographic who they assume are part of the contaminated blood inquiry.”
The difference between security measures at the two sets of hearings was first noticed when Grenfell campaigners visited the infected blood inquiry and saw that no bag searchers were taking place.
Bereaved families and survivors group Grenfell United told the Huffington Post that it had been questioning the security arrangements “for a while.”
The group said: “You can’t help but think they are making different judgements for us based on race and class. When we question why it’s one rule for us and another for others, they are very defensive and don’t seem to understand how it makes us feel.”
Both inquiries are overseen by the same group of Cabinet Office officials. When approached by the Huffington Post, the officials said that it was up to the individual inquiries to decide their own security arrangements.
However, the Grenfell inquiry told the website: “The physical security baseline measures — set by the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure and the Cabinet Office — state that, where members of the public are attending a building, an appropriate screening process should be applied.”
Responding to the report, Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy said: “When we say black people are overpoliced as citizens and underpoliced as victims, this is what we mean.
“Grenfell Tower victims suffered because of lethal negligence over dangerous cladding and now they’re being treated like criminals.”
The inquiry into the disaster at the west London tower block, which killed 72 people, has been plagued by delays and accusations that it has failed to examine whether institutional racism was a factor.
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