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Smoke bomb protest outside #ExpelMe rally near Grenfell Tower sparks sensitivity row

POLICE were called to escort attendees safely from the Labour Women’s Declaration’s #ExpelMe rally following confrontations with protesters outside the event last night.

Activists accusing the meeting of transphobia gathered outside the Maxilla Social Club to picket the event, which was called in response to the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights’s demand that members of Woman's Place UK and the LGB Alliance, which it referred to as transphobic hate groups, be expelled from the Labour Party.

The organisations both reject accusations of transphobia. Woman’s Place says it organises to protect women’s sex-based rights and women’s right to organise and discuss issues that affect them.

Protest co-organisers London Bi Pandas said their picket was “a much-needed moment of trans+ solidarity in a landscape of rising violence against trans+ and non-binary people.”

But attendees accused protesters of hurling abusive language in a bid to intimidate them – and condemned the release of “smoke bombs” round the corner from Grenfell Tower.

The community hall is immediately surrounded by tributes and murals to the 72 people who died in the 2017 tower block fire.

Trade unionist and former firefighter Lucy Masoud, who addressed the Labour Women's Declaration Meeting, said that the 300 attendees, mainly women, could smell sulphur from inside.

Former Justice for Grenfell campaign group spokeswoman Moira Samuels, who passed by the meeting, got “a whole lot of abuse” when she challenged protesters over the smoke, Ms Masoud said.

London Bi Pandas said: “We need to hold our hands up and apologise for the smoke bombs in our protest.

“We realised too late the insensitivity of using them in close proximity to Grenfell.”

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