Signs have been erected near the site pleading with visitors to “stop taking pictures please” and “stop taking selfies.”
“Not a tourist attraction,” other signs proclaim. It’s not clear who created the signs or when they were first posted. The signs also don’t appear to be created by the same person.
Natasha Gordon, a London resident who said her family and friends lived in the tower, said she has seen visitors take photos in front of the tower’s charred remains.
“There have been loads [of people],” she told CNN. “People taking this as a party, disrespectfully coming to take photos without even so much as leaving flowers or a card.”
Wayne Kilo Lewis is another London resident who lived near Grenfell Tower for 28 years and said he lost several friends in the fire.
“It was such a disgrace to see people taking selfies with the tower behind them, thinking it was OK to do that in front of residents and people who lost their loved ones in the fire,” he told CNN. “It broke my heart to see people all dressed up like it was (the Notting Hill) Carnival and guys trying to get girls’ phone numbers.”
Not a new trend
The act of taking selfies at disaster sites is not a new one.
The perils of the ‘disaster selfie’
Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a psychology professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst, said the growing “disaster selfie” trend showcases the increasing value society places on social media.
“Putting your face in front of a disaster scene adds a different dimension to the incident,” she said. “Then it’s not coping, it’s just self-promotion. You’re hoping to get attention or comments on your photos.
“It’s one thing to honor and respect the drama and suffering that people have gone through, and it’s another to cross that line. There’s always been a tendency to make yourself part of the action and show you were there.”
By posting signs condemning the selfies and confronting visitors, Whitbourne said residents could “help define a new norm” that will make clear this type of behavior is unacceptable and not tolerated.
A rising toll
Only five victims have been identified so far.
Seventeen people are still being treated in London hospitals, nine of whom remain in critical condition, the UK Press Association reported.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. British Prime Minister Teresa May announced last week the government would open a public inquiry into the disaster and the police have opened a criminal investigation.