People may notice something a little different about Notting Hill Carnival this year on 27 and 28 August. Community organisers have been working hard to turn it green in remembrance of the tragedy at Grenfell Tower. And there are hopes it will be a symbol of unity.
Green For Grenfell
The Green for Grenfell initiative is about “decorating the streets, people decorating their own houses and, of course, everybody coming to Carnival dressed in green”, says Toby Laurent Belson, who is part of the Notting Hill Carnival Community Support team.
— Rags Martel (@RagsMartel) August 25, 2017
Organisers say the initiative will be a display of “reverence and respect amidst the revelry”. And this year the event is more important than ever. As local resident and Carnival volunteer Huey Walker said to BBC News:
I think people see it as an opportunity to continue the healing of what’s happened in the community and keep the message of what’s happened in the public eye as well.
A minute’s silence will also be held at 3pm over both carnival days for those who did not survive the fire; but also for Edson Da Costa and Rashan Charles who died recently following contact with police. And there will be a yellow quiet zone to allow for reflection throughout the event.
“Ring of care”
Police will also reportedly form a “ring of care” around the nearby estate where Grenfell Tower stands to ensure people respect the site.
But police have already started a crackdown around the event, which has seen violence in the past. Having carried out over 650 pre-emptive arrests, there are also plans to use facial recognition technology at the carnival; a move which has been criticised by civil liberties groups.
The police have also stirred up controversy in the carnival’s run up by tweeting out a heroin bust using the carnival to headline it. This was despite there being no apparent link between the two events:
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) August 22, 2017
It prompted grime artist Stormzy to tweet a disapproving response saying “how many drugs did you lot seize in the run up to Glastonbury or we only doing tweets like this for black events?”
In fact, some are wary of police at the event, particularly in light of recent police tactics. Jair Tavares, Da Costa’s cousin believes police may simply be looking for an excuse to shut the carnival down. He told The Guardian:
If anything, people should be scared of going to the carnival because the police are something to be scared of. They don’t guarantee our safety.
Stafford Scott of The Monitoring Group, a community organisation that promotes good race relations, said that feelings were running high and that:
There’s a feeling that the police are waging a war against the black community.
Time for change
But others reject that recent events will give anyone an excuse to shut Notting Hill Carnival down. And they point out the roots of the carnival which was founded after the 1958 Notting Hill race riots and the murder of Kelso Cochrane, an Antiguan carpenter, by a gang of white youths. Community activist and writer Ismael Blagrove told BuzzFeed News:
If we could have a carnival born out of the race riots and the death of one man, then you can imagine what carnival symbolises now with the tragedy of Grenfell.
In this way Blagrove believes it can be a tool for unity and symbolises what people really want:
It’s change that we’re demanding, and not just change for Grenfell, change for the country.
We want change for the marginalised, and working-class people in this country.
So, if you’re heading to the Notting Hill Carnival, wear green as a sign of solidarity with the Grenfell community.
– Wear Green for Grenfell at Notting Hill Carnival.
– Read more Canary articles on the Grenfell Tower fire.
Featured image via Wikimedia
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?