Three Billboards Outside Grenfell


The government is still under fire for its slow-moving response to the 2017 fire at Grenfell Tower. At Monday’s BRIT Awards, rapper Stormzy closed his performance by calling out Theresa May, asking “Where’s the money for Grenfell? What you thought we just forgot about Grenfell?”

Just last week, organizers of the Justice4Grenfell campaign parked three 14 ft mobile billboards outside of the tower, and later outside Westminster Palace. The move was inspired by the recent Oscar-nominated film Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. The billboards read “71 DEAD,” “AND STILL NO ARRESTS,” and “HOW COME?”

May’s spokesperson has responded to the performance, saying “The Prime Minister has been very clear that Grenfell was an unimaginable tragedy that should never have happened and must never happen again.”

The diminishing attention being focused on the Grenfell tragedy and the slow-moving public inquiry opened in September 2017 are suspected as tactics to draw the public’s eye away from the situation and minimize the perceived impact of the fire. Despite this, local activists are using the three billboards to keep public awareness of the issue high, just as the tactic was used in the film. In Three Billboards, a mother uses the billboards to question the local police chief about her daughter’s unresolved rape and murder.

This method has been adopted by other activist groups as well, with an organization in Florida placing mobile billboards outside of Senator Marco Rubio’s office after the recent school shooting in Parkland, FL. Those read, “Slaughtered in school,” “and still no gun control,” ”How come, Marco Rubio?”

These are empowering examples of life imitating art, and more importantly, of members of our communities publicly holding those in power to account for their actions and inactions. Amazingly, all of the aforementioned cases have been successful in coercing responses from the officials they hope to hold accountable for these injustices.

Dominque Brodie