Nine Black Lives Matter protesters have been arrested after they occupied a runway at London City Airport this morning, claiming the “climate crisis is a racist crisis”.
The protesters were arrested after they erected a tripod and locked themselves together on the runway. They had reportedly bypassed security by using a rubber dinghy to cross the docks.
The final activists were arrested around 11.25am, Scotland Yard said, nearly six hours after the group occupied the runway.
City Airport tweeted that the runway had reopened at lunchtime and flights were resuming.
In a statement, Black Lives Matter UK said: “This action was taken in order to highlight the UK’s environmental impact on the lives of black people locally and globally.
“As the largest per capita contributor to global temperature change and yet among the least vulnerable to its deadly effects, the UK leads in ensuring that our climate crisis is a racist crisis.”
The planned expansion of London City Airport “consigns the local community in Newham to further deterioration of their environment”, the group said.
The group added that the airport caters to people working in financial services – making it a facility to help the wealthy.
Black Lives Matter said: “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.”
Police were called to the airport at 5.40am to reports protesters were demonstrating on the runway.
Met Police officers began to arrest the protesters around 9.30am after specialist officers arrived to “unlock” the activists.
The protesters are being held on suspicion of aggravated trespass, being unlawfully air-side and breaching airport by-laws, police said.
Flights from the airport were delayed and all flights due to land were diverted to Gatwick and Southend airports.
The Green Party said the activists were right to highlight the unequal way pollution affects BAME communities.
Caroline Russell, London Assembly member and Green Party transport spokesperson, said: “Pollution is not colour blind. Environmental problems tend to mirror the inequalities we see in our society, and this sadly means BAME communities are often the worst affected by environmental issues.
“Air pollution kills tens of thousands of people every year, and just today new research has revealed it is also linked to Alzheimer’s.
“Newham is one of Britain’s most racially diverse places and so any expansion of London City Airport, which was approved by Sadiq Khan despite huge local protest, will hit BAME people hardest.”
Last month, Black Lives Matter staged protests in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Manchester as part of a “nationwide shutdown” calling for greater awareness of discrimination against black and minority ethnic communities following a spate of shootings in the US.
Ten Black Lives Matter UK activists were arrested after demonstrating near Heathrow.
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