Black Lives Matter protest hits London City Airport flights

Passengers at London City Airport have been grounded after protesters stormed the runway.

Tuesday, 6th September 2016, 7:39 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th September 2016, 10:41 am
Protesters stormed the runway at London City Airport earlier today. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg/Black Lives Matter UK /PA Wire.
Protesters stormed the runway at London City Airport earlier today. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg/Black Lives Matter UK /PA Wire.

Flights were disrupted at the airport, in the Royal Docks area of the capital, after activists apparently in support of the Black Lives Matter movement made their way air-side at around 5.40am on Tuesday.

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

It is the latest demonstration involving anti-racism activists, who brought traffic to a standstill outside Heathrow Airport - and carried out similar protests in cities around the country - in a co-ordinated day of action last month.

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The campaigners, whose international movement was set up following the murder of black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida four years ago, said Tuesday's action was taken "in order to highlight the UK's environmental impact on the lives of black people locally and globally".

In a statement, the protest group's UK division cited expansion plans at the airport as the cause of their action.

They 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% of them work in business, finance or other business services.

"It is an airport designed for the wealthy. At the same time 40% of Newham's population struggle to survive on £20,000 or less. When black people in Britain are 28% more likely to be exposed to air pollution than their white counterparts, we know that environmental inequality is a racist crisis."

The Metropolitan Police are investigating how the protesters managed to get air-side - including the suggestion that they swam across the Thames to gain access to the site, before locking themselves together on the runway.

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."

Seven arrests have been made.