Black Lives Matter activists protesting against racism in the UK have blocked roads in three major cities including London where traffic has been brought to a standstill outside Heathrow airport.
As the movement carried out a coordinated day of action, police tried to end demonstrations in London, Birmingham and Nottingham during the morning rush hour on Friday.
By midday, protesters who had chained themselves to each other remained in place in Nottingham city centre, bringing buses and trams to a halt, and on the approach to Heathrow, causing lengthy tailbacks for holidaymakers.
Black Lives Matter UK (UKBLM), a loose network of anti-racism activists, called the action – which it is describes as a “shutdown” – to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the death of Mark Duggan, who was shot dead by police during a hard stop.
Natasha Nkonde, a UKBLM activist, said: “[Duggan] represents another death in police custody with no consequences. Black people are overrepresented in these cases. In the past year we’ve had Mzee Mohammed, Sarah Reed, Jermaine Baker – we are in a crisis about the brutality being inflicted on black people. Sarah Reed had mental health issues and was beaten up by the police and found dead.
“We’re upset about the 3,0000 deaths in the Mediterranean this year and of course post-Brexit we know there’s been a 57% increase in hate crimes. We are seeing people talking about how they are being attacked, abused in the streets.
“Other forms of protests have been exhausted and so the disruption today is bringing back to the mainstream discussions around black lives and the racist structures and inequalities we know about.”
Outside Heathrow protesters unfurled a banner saying “This is Crisis” and lay on the road chanting “Black lives matter” on the approach to the Heathrow tunnel, bringing traffic, which was busy because of the school holidays, to a standstill. Metropolitan police said they were called to the scene just before 8.30am.
They said they had made 10 arrests, four of whom had been taken to west London police stations and six who had attached themselves to each other who they were trying to release.
Earlier, traffic was stationary from junction four of the M4 and people were advised to leave the motorway at an earlier junction. But the Met said that the M4 was operating normally, although one lane of the approach to Heathrow remained closed.
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SOURCE: The Guardian, Haroon Siddique