As hundreds of “day of rage” protesters prepare to march to Downing Street at 1pm on Wednesday, many have raised concerns about the exertion the demonstration will place on emergency services
The demonstration has been organised by the Movement for Justice By Any Means, with protesters saying they want to “bring down the government” in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, which left at least 79 people dead.
The protest will coincide with the Queen’s speech and has been designed to “shut down London”, according to the event page on Facebook.
Armed police have been stationed outside Westminster ahead of the demonstration.
On the event page, 387 people have said they are attending the demonstration, with nearly 1,000 more interested in protesting. It is not clear how many are expected to show up, though some media reports suggest “thousands” could attend.
Organisers said they want local housing provided for displaced residents of the 24-storey blaze and for the alleged failings of local authorities to be made public.
The protest has not gone down well with politicians, social commentators and members of the general public who have said it could place undue stress on the already “overstretched and exhausted” emergency services.
Nimco Ali, co-founder of anti-FGM group Daughters of Eve, asked people to “chill”.
Some were worried that the hot weather might exasperate the situation:
Others shamed those for taking part:
And there were hopes that the day will be peaceful:
Firefighters were widely praised in the wake of the blaze which devastated the west London tower block in the early hours of last Wednesday. Crews received a hero’s departure when they left the estate at the weekend.
Those directly affected by the tragedy have also called for calm.
Mahad Egal, who lived on the fourth floor of the tower, urged protesters not to “disgrace those who have been affected”.
In a video posted on Twitter by musician Sam Duckworth, Egal said: “I know it’s a frustrating time but I would like to send a message out.
“Please to all those who are protesting, we do not need violence in the community, we do not want that in our name.”
Meanwhile, the strain on UK’s emergency services has been highlighted by Britain’s leading anti-terror chief who has warned that the public could be at risk if officers are diverted to fight terrorism.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley told Home Secretary Amber Rudd that counter-terrorism policing was not able to operate at “full strength”, in a letter reportedly seen by the BBC.
“It will inevitably push risk to other areas of policing, potentially with significant impact,” he wrote.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said resources have been “tested” by recent terror attacks.