Black Lives Matter protesters at London City Airport on Tuesday, September 6, 2016
By Sam Dean
6 September 2016 • 7:28am
London City Airport was brought to a standstill on Tuesday morning after a group of Black Lives Matter activists stormed the runway.
The demonstrators say they have “shut down London City Airport to protest the UK’s environmental impact on black people”.
Police said the nine protesters have locked themselves together and erected a tripod on the runway, while it has been reported that they bypassed security and reached the airport by using a rubber dinghy to cross the docks.
The protesters have erected a tripod on the runway Credit: Black Lives Matter UK/PA Wire
The activist group, which launched a series of protests around the country last month, said on Twitter: “At London City Airport a small elite is able to fly, in 2016 alone 3,176 migrants have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean.
“By 2050 there will be 200 million climate refugees. Black people are the first to die, not the first to fly, in this racist climate crisis.”
The Metropolitan Police said they are investigating how the group reached the runway and are waiting for “specialist resources” to unlock 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.
Black Lives Matter UK /PA Wire
Police said they were “awaiting the arrival of specialist resources that are able to unlock the protesters” Credit: Black Lives Matter UK /PA Wire
“No arrests have been made at this stage.”
The group of protesters were seen huddled together on the runway, causing all flights due to land at the airport to be diverted to Gatwick and Southend airports.
A witness at the airport, which was used by a record 4.3 million passengers last year, told the Evening Standard: “They got onto the runway using a rubber dinghy from the dock.
“They are on the runway surrounded by police. I’m not sure if they are chained together but they are huddled together.”
Emergency services surround the group on the runway Credit: Getty Images
An airport spokesman said: “The runway is currently closed due to protesters on site.
“Police are present and we will resume normal operations as soon as possible. We apologise to passengers for any inconvenience to their journey.”
A number of outbound flights from the airport have been cancelled this morning, while passengers are being told to wait for further information. Swathes of outgoing flights have been cancelled.
Plans for the £344 million expansion of the airport were given the green light in July, with the Government saying there will be “generous” compensation packages for local residents affected by the increase in air traffic.
In a statement, the Black Lives Matter group’s UK division said the expansion plans were the cause of the demonstration.
“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,” they said.
“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.
Plane aborts landing at London City Airport due to Storm Imogen winds Plane aborts landing at London City Airport due to Storm Imogen winds Play! 00:51
“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 protest follows similar scenes last month when Black Lives Matter campaigners brought traffic to a standstill on the road to Heathrow airport on a day of action which featured protests around the UK.
The protest comes as British Airways suffered a technical glitch that caused delays for passengers across the world.
Tags: Black Lives Matter, Black people are the first to die, London City Airport, migrants, protest the UK's environmental impact on black people, protesters were seen huddled together on the runway, racist climate