Nine Black Lives Matter activists were taken into custody last Tuesday after blocking a London City Airport runway, delaying flights for nearly six hours. London’s Metropolitan Police were called to the scene at approximately 05:40 BST after nine protestors locked themselves together and began forming a tripod in the middle of a runway.
Black Lives Matter UK has taken responsibility for the protest and has said that the action was taken in order to “highlight the UK’s environmental impact on the lives of black people locally and globally.”
As the fifth busiest airport in the region, the London City Airport is a corporate hub for travelers. Due to its proximity to both the major business district, Canary Wharf, and the City of London, the airport is located in the midst of the British Capital’s two financial centers.
According to Black Lives Matter UK, the centrally located airport was planning to expand its capacity, negatively affecting the surrounding community and one of London’s most disadvantaged areas.
The organization tweeted, “Black people are the first to die not the first to fly. This is why London City Airport has been #shutdown"
The protesters were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespassing, being unlawfully airside and breaking London City Airport bylaws, according to police.
The campaign group said that the London City Airport was designed for the wealthy while those who lived near the site struggled on low salaries.
“When black people in Britain are 28 percent more likely to be exposed to air pollution than their white counterparts, we know that environmental inequality is a racist crisis.”
Despite the fact that the Black Lives Matter movement made its original debut in the United States following the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by the hands of Ferguson police, the British activist network was inspired to follow in their footsteps to mark the fifth anniversary of the fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan. His death also sparked riots throughout the capitol and other British cities in 2011.
Marking the fifth anniversary of Duggan’s death, Black Lives Matter UK was also responsible for blocking roads leading to Britain’s largest airport, Heathrow, last month.
Since their latest protest this past Tuesday, the Black Lives Matter UK organization has received large amounts of scrutiny about whether the London City Airport protest can be considered a Black Lives Matter action, given both the environmental aspect and the fact that the nine protestors taken into custody by Met Police were all white.
In response to the comments, the Black Lives Matter UK Twitter account posted that the movement “is and always has been black led.”
There's a need for white people to take responsibility in a society that privileges them through racism and anti-black racism in particular
— #BlackLivesMatterUK (@ukblm) September 6, 2016
“There’s a need for white people to take responsibility in a society that privileges them through racism and anti-black racism in particular, “ the organization tweeted. “Today’s protest is an example of white ally-ship under black leadership.”