On 21 June, some 500 protesters held a ‘Day of Rage’ protest in central London, resulting in several arrests. Protesters marched from Shepherd’s Bush to Downing Street to demonstrate against the government’s response to the Grenfell Tower fire that occurred on 14 June in Kensington. The demonstration highlighted a number of contentious issues, with the government and local authority coming under criticism over building materials, refurbishment cuts and alleged ignorance of residents’ concerns regarding fire safety. The protest coincided with the state opening of Parliament with the intention of raising socio-political issues regarding inequality and wealth distribution. The march, organised by the leftist Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary (MFJ), comes as the government is put under increasing pressure following the disappointing election result on 8 June. The protest was the latest in a series of anti-government actions in June, with hundreds protesting near Downing Street on 9 and 10 June to denounce a proposed agreement between the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), while an estimated 5,000 people demonstrated in Parliament on 17 June over similar issues and the Grenfell Tower fire.
The June actions reflect discontentment from a section of the public which is opposed to ongoing austerity and blame partly for the Grenfell Tower fire London and the deal with the DUP, a party that has courted controversy over its conservative views. Further anti-government protests are highly likely in the coming weeks as issues over the DUP deal, Brexit mediation and the fallout from the Grenfell Fire continue. There is the potential that anti-government protests, such as those orchestrated by the MFJ and others, could escalate into localised unrest albeit involving a minority element. Future actions include a national demonstration in central London on 1 July when protesters intend to march from the BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place to Downing Street. Again, organisers are raising issues concerning inequality, cuts to public services and government privatisation. Further actions include an ‘occupation’ of Kensington on 13 July to denounce the failings that resulted in the Grenfell Tower fire and a protest outside the Bank of England on 17 July to oppose the government’s policies over a ‘hard Brexit’. Anti-government actions have the potential to be well-attended and disruptive, particularly in central and west London. Police measures to curb unrest, including road closures and containment, could cause delays.
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