#BlackLivesMatter briefly blocks road to Heathrow Airport, more action planned across UK
Activists from Black Lives Matter’s newly launched UK chapter blocked a major road to London Heathrow, Britain’s busiest airport, on Friday morning. Police have made ten arrests.
London Metropolitan Police say four people were arrested and taken to police stations where they remain in custody.
A further six people have been arrested but remain at the scene. Police are in the process of extracting the protestors who are chained together.
Police claim there have been no injuries.
The protest appears to have come to an end at the airport, with Heathrow tweeting that the M4 is now open.
M4 Spur is open and traffic is returning to normal following earlier delays.— Heathrow Airport (@HeathrowAirport) August 5, 2016
Protestors had also targeted Birmingham airport and the tram system in Nottingham in what the group has called a "nationwide shutdown."
Activists are calling for a day of rebellion across Britain with more demonstrations planned across the country.
Hundreds of people are expected to attend the events, which fall on the fifth anniversary of the death of Mark Duggan, who was shot dead by police in Tottenham in summer 2011, and five years on from the riots that swept England as a result of his death.
At Heathrow Airport, protesters were lying across the road with signs saying “Black Lives Matter” and “This Is A Crisis.”
Black Lives Matter UK has released a statement, saying: “This morning UKBLM have #Shutdown roads in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham to mourn those who have died in custody and to protest the ongoing racist violence of the police, border enforcement, structural inequalities and the everyday indignity of street racism.
“We stand in solidarity with the families and friends of all who have died at the hands of the British state. We take action because justice has not been delivered through conventional means: the police, the IPCC [Independent Police Complaints Commission], the courts or the legislature.”
The group says black people are overrepresented by more than a factor of two for deaths in police custody since 1998, are 37 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people and three times more likely to be arrested than white people.
It claims there has been a 57 percent rise in reported racist hate crime since the EU referendum of June 23, in which Britain voted for a Brexit.
Police set up screens around the protestors at Heathrow and Nottingham.
A spokesperson for Nottinghamshire Police said the screens were erected to prevent distraction for motorists.
A Heathrow spokesperson said the protest did not appear to be causing people to miss flights, saying: “Heathrow supports the right to peaceful protest within the law, but the safety and security of our passengers, aircraft and colleagues, together with the smooth running of the operation, is paramount.
“We are sorry to those passengers whose journeys are being disrupted and we are working with the authorities to resolve the issue.”
Birmingham Airport traffic also briefly ground to a halt after protesters blocked the road on Friday morning.
A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said five people were arrested for “causing an obstruction,” according to the Express.
According to the Daily Mail, paramedics in an ambulance trying to rush a patient to Birmingham hospital were held up by the activists.
BREAKING: 5 people have been arrested following a Black Lives Matter protest near Birmingham Airport. pic.twitter.com/iLfxgJcJfD— Birmingham Updates (@BhamUpdates) August 5, 2016
In Nottingham, activists were also lying on the roads in protest, blocking traffic between Parliament Street and Market Street.
A Nottinghamshire police spokesman said: “Officers are currently on scene and are negotiating with a small number of protesters.
“Our priority will remain the safety of everyone involved and to bring the demonstration to a peaceful conclusion.”
Happening now. People laying in the road. Traffic stopped at juncture of Parliament St and Market St due to protest. pic.twitter.com/f81L92DTAt— Historic Nottingham (@nottmhistory) August 5, 2016
Black lives matter protest Nottingham town centre, chained themselves to the floor, all trams and most buses stopped pic.twitter.com/Z8hWeNRVSK— Joe Howey (@howey555) August 5, 2016
Twitter reacts to protests
The protests are getting an unsympathetic reception among some Twitter users, who say they are disrupting holidaymakers and people trying to get to work.
Why is there a BLM protest in a united city like London?! Isn't there enough problems there w/ISIS crap? Get off the damn road! #Heathrow— SciFiFantasyGirl (@MySciFiFantasy) August 5, 2016
I should miss my flight because ur screaming black lives matter? I expect u to refund my whole holiday then— t x (@_talsxo) August 5, 2016
I'm all for black lives matter and protests but some how I don't think stopping thousands going on holiday is the way to do it #heathrow— ॐ (@h0lliemay_x) August 5, 2016
What on earth is the link between Black Lives Matter and stopping families going on holiday? #heathrowairport— Perdi Forster (@PerdiForster) August 5, 2016
Why is "black lives matter" in the UK? As far as im concerned #AllLivesMatter— Sharon McGonigal (@Shazza1uk) August 5, 2016
But there is also plenty of support for the protests.
Amount of people responding to #Shutdown with "we don't need Black Lives Matter in the UK" is showing why we do, and why we need protests.— Elainovision Union (@scattermoon) August 5, 2016
There have been several Black Lives Matter protests in the UK in recent weeks, in solidarity with citizens marching against police shootings in the US.