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Protest shuts down Grenfell firm's factory

Palestine Action activists target Arconic, the company that made the deadly cladding and helps to arm Israel

PALESTINE ACTION have occupied the roof of the factory which made the inflammable cladding blamed for the Grenfell Tower fire.

Arconic’s factory in Birmingham was evacuated today and production came to a halt.

One protester chained himself to the factory gates.

On the fourth anniversary of the disaster, survivors in London voiced their frustration at the government’s failure to bring them “swift justice.”

The Arconic factory also makes parts for Israeli warplanes and the rooftop occupation aimed to highlight the company’s role in both the Grenfell Tower fire and Israel’s bloody 11-day attack on Gaza last month.

The occupiers sprayed the factory with blood-red paint symbolising the deaths of the 72 Grenfell victims and of the more than 250 Palestinians, including 65 children, killed by Israeli forces in May.

Survivors’ and bereaved families’ group Grenfell United backed the action on Twitter, posting: “This is solidarity. Arconic crimes don’t only stop at Grenfell. They span the world.”

One of the rooftop occupiers told the Morning Star that the action was needed “to hold companies like Arconic to account.”

He said: “Arconic as a company are unapologetic when it comes to their mistakes, so when their cladding cost 72 people their lives, they did not take responsibility, they just tried to avoid the blame.

“That they continue to help make weapons going to Israel shows that they’re ruthless, these people, they are not willing to stop making a profit even if it costs people their blood, their lives.”

The two occupiers vowed to stay on the roof until forcibly removed.

Survivors of the fire and bereaved family members marked today’s anniversary by lighting up churches across London in green, the colour adopted by Grenfell campaigners and supporters.

They voiced frustration that there have been no criminal charges so far in relation to the fire and that the government has failed to act on recommendations for reform of social housing.

Former resident Tiago Alves, who escaped from the 13th floor of the West London tower block with his family, said: “Implementing recommendations and the social housing white paper are important pieces of legislation for us to feel like it’s moving forward.

“Because a criminal investigation can’t go ahead until the inquiry is over, it does feel like we’re being denied swift justice.

“It still doesn’t feel like we’re any closer to achieving the justice that people who passed away deserve. It just feels like it’s taking a long time.”

Over the last year, the Grenfell public inquiry has revealed that the firms which manufactured cladding and insulation materials used on the tower block, including Arconic, knew of the risks they posed but continued to sell them.

Nabil Choucair, who lost six family members, said he feared that those responsible for the fire are “going to get away with murder.”

He said it was a “shame” that the inquiry could not be stopped so that prosecutions could be brought immediately.

Justice4Grenfell spokesperson Yvette Williams said that thousands of people are still living in unsafe homes with dangerous cladding.

“Housing managers who ignored tenants and fire and safety compliance are indifferent to their failures and still have their jobs and a criminal investigation has been paused until the conclusion of the inquiry,” she said.

“This is not justice; this is a lack of political will and accountability.”

As the rooftop occupation at Arconic continued, the company said in a statement: “Police are on site and we are supporting them to ensure the safety of both the protesters and our colleagues who work there.

“We are also very much aware that this is the fourth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire and would mention that our thoughts are with those affected by the tragedy.

“We continue to co-operate with and support the relevant investigations.”

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