6 Sep 2016

Black Lives Matter protesters close City Airport runway

Black Lives Matter protesters disrupt flights at London City Airport after locking themselves together on the runway.

(Video: Black Lives Matter)

The nine activists, protesting about the environment, inequality and racism, may have reached the runway in the Royal Docks after swimming across the River Thames.

Flights in and out of the airport were seriously affected, as police waited for specialist equipment that would allow them to remove the protesters.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “We were called at around 5.40am to reports of a number of protesters who made their way air-side.

“There are currently nine protesters on the runway at the airport. They have erected a tripod and have locked themselves together.

“Officers are currently on scene and are negotiating with them. We are awaiting the arrival of specialist resources that are able to unlock the protesters. No arrests have been made at this stage.”

It is not the first time that Black Lives Matter, a movement that was set up in the US after the killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin four years ago, has targeted London’s transport links.

In August, the group stopped drivers from reaching Heathrow by lying down in a road leading to the airport. It mounted similar protests in Birmingham and Nottingham in a co-ordinated day of action.

‘Designed for the wealthy’

The UK division of Black Lives Matter said it had targeted City Airport to protest about expansion plans that would adversely affect people living nearby.

It said: “Recently London City Airport was given approval to expand its capacity, a move that consigns the local community in Newham to further deterioration of their environment.

“The average salary of a London City Airport user is 136,000 euros (£114,000) and 63 per cent of them work in business, finance or other business services.

“It is an airport designed for the wealthy. At the same time 40 per cent of Newham’s population struggle to survive on £20,000 or less.

“When black people in Britain are 28 per cent more likely to be exposed to air pollution than their white counterparts, we know that environmental inequality is a racist crisis.”

An airport spokesman said: “We’re currently experiencing disruption to all flights due to protesters at the airport. Police are currently on the scene.”

Air travellers were also hit by a British Airways computer glitch that affected flights at Heathrow and Gatwick.