Thursday, December 7

Heathrow traffic delays as Black Lives Matter campaigners stage road protest



Black Lives Matter protesters lying on the road have brought traffic heading to Heathrow airport to a standstill.

The campaign group called for “nationwide #shutdown” in a post on social media on Thursday and there are reports of protests taking place in Birmingham and Nottingham.

Police said a number of people have been arrested at Heathrow and holidaymakers face traffic disruption.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “Police at Heathrow are dealing with a demo. We were called at 8.25am on the fifth to the M4 slip road at Heathrow airport.

“A number of people were reported to be blocking the road leading to the airport. Officers have attended. A number of people have been arrested. One lane has been opened but there is traffic congestion. Police continue to deal with the situation at the scene.”

A Heathrow spokesman said the protest does not appear to be causing people to miss flights, adding: “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.”

Pictures posted on Twitter show protesters lying in a row across the road beneath a banner which says: “This is a crisis.”

Video footage shows police officers hunkering down next to the protesters, while chants of “black lives matter” can be heard as some people get out of their vehicles, which are bumper to bumper on the road into one of the world’s busiest airports.

Nottinghamshire Police said they are aware of disruption in the city, and officers are at the scene negotiating with a small number of protesters.

Photographs posted on Twitter show four demonstrators lying across tram tracks.

Video footage of the protest near Birmingham Airport shows police officers pulling demonstrators away from the middle of the road.

A spokesman for Nottinghamshire Police said screens erected at the scene of the protest are to prevent distraction for motorists.

Screens are also at the scene of the Heathrow incident, where video footage appears to show a number of police officers moving the protesters while they continue to lie on the road.

It would appear that the protesters are linked together in some way as the officers move them towards the side of the road as a group.

Mr Duggan, 29, was shot by police attempting to arrest him in Tottenham, north London, in August 2011, and the shooting sparked nationwide riots.

An inquest jury decided that Mr Duggan was lawfully killed by a police marksman.

A video on the BLMUK Facebook page features people talking about the campaign and includes statistics, with one man saying there have been “1,562 deaths in police custody in my lifetime”, adding that there have been zero convictions.

Another man says black people are “up to 37 times more likely” to be stopped and searched, while another says black people face “far more severe” sentencing than white people for the same offence.

Meanwhile, the number of fatal police shootings in the US has led to widespread condemnation.

Two white officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, killed a black man during a scuffle and an officer in Minnesota shot and killed a black motorist during a traffic stop, sparking protests.

Police have also been the victims of fatal shootings, with five officers killed in Dallas, Texas, and three law enforcement officers gunned down in Baton Rouge.

UKBLM describes itself as a network of anti-racist activists from across the UK.

The group said it staged a “shutdown” of 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”.

The campaign group said it wanted to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Mr Duggan’s death.

“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, the courts or the legislature,” it said.

The group said it aims to highlight “the struggle for Black Lives in the UK and #Shutdown state-sanctioned racialised sexism, Islamophobia, classism, ableism, homophobia and transphobia”, adding: “We fight for liberation.”