A group of Black Lives Matter protesters has been arrested at London City Airport on Tuesday, 6 September.

The UK equivalent of the US movement Black Lives Matter saw a gathering of individuals who tied themselves to a tripod on the London City Airport runway against the racist climate crisis the UK and other European countries are perpetuating both locally and internationally.

The Black Lives Matter march was supported by people of all races. Image Credit: Daily Mail UK

Authorities stated protesters were taken into custody on suspicion of aggravated trespassing, being illegally airside as well as violating London City Airport bylaws. Since the protesters’ arrest, the runway has been reopened, and passengers are advised to check their respective airlines for flight information.

Reason for the protest

The nine activists who locked themselves to a tripod and lay on the ground were rallying against the climate crisis which they felt had negative implications on Black lives. They stated that Britain has a global impact on the environment with 70% of countries most affected by climate change located in sub-Saharan Africa. The group said climate change was causing the number of climate refugees to rise.

They spoke of how there were over 3000 refugees who died in the Mediterranean because the UK and other European countries had blocked safer and cheaper means of travel, in order to decrease immigration. Contributing to their statements they tweeted “Black people are the first to die, not the first to fly, in this racist climate crisis”.

Furthermore, that particular airport where the activists gathered is the fifth busiest in the London region, with most of its travelers being from the financial sector due to its proximity to two financial centers: Canary Wharf and the City of London. The protesters said the airport’s plans to expand its capacity would be to the detriment of the surrounding community living in one of the city’s most disadvantaged areas.

Hundreds joined in the protest through London tonight. Image Credit: The Sun

Race and climate change?

The dynamics of the protester’s woes have seen various people respond differently to the cause. Firstly, the activists with Black Lives Matter banners were white. As controversial, or at least confusing, as this may seem, Black Lives Matter UK tweeted that the protest was indicative of white allyship under Black leadership.
Simultaneously, a group of all white people chained on a runway, protesting for the rights of Black people can be seen as an appropriation of the struggles of the latter. Many believe Black people should be at the forefront of their own movements. Otherwise, the narrative does not change.
Secondly, many on Twitter felt that the protest deviated from the central issue on which the Black Lives Matter Movement focused: the blatant disrespect, ill-treatment, and disregard for the rights and liberties of Black people, such as the right to life. The decision to interweave this with climate change had many baffled as to what exactly was the protesters’ cause or message? Was the idea to raise awareness that the lives of Black people matter or was it that capitalism caused climate change? Or was it that capitalism and white supremacy are the bases of regimes that lead to the destruction of the environment along with that of Black communities worldwide?
Either way, the protesters may have raised questions and eyebrows, however, they did also manage to attract attention to their cause.
Source: CNN