LONDON — Activists linked to the U.S.-based group Black Lives Matter blocked a road Friday leading to London’s Heathrow Airport and held protests in other British cities.
Organizer Joshua Virasami told the BBC that the movement – founded to protest the killings of black people by American police – was needed “in Britain and all over the world.”
U.K. Black Lives Matter said in a statement it was holding a “shutdown” of roads in London and other cities to “mourn those who have died in custody and to protest the ongoing racist violence of the police, border enforcement, structural inequalities and the everyday indignity of street racism.”
London’s Metropolitan Police says officers made several arrests among those blocking a road leading from a main highway to Heathrow on Friday morning. Photos showed police moving a group of people attached together lying across the road.
Police said one lane of the road was open but traffic was backed up getting into one of the world’s busiest airports. Heathrow said it was not aware of passengers missing flights because of the protest.
In other protests, a small group of demonstrators in the central England city of Nottingham lay down on tram tracks in the city, and police removed people from a road near Birmingham Airport, 100 miles (160 kilometres) north of London.
The protesters said they were marking the fifth anniversary of the death of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old black man shot by London police under disputed circumstances on Aug. 4, 2011. The killing sparked Britain’s worst civil disorder in decades, five nights of rioting that spread to cities around the country.
Activists say black men in Britain are unfairly targeted by law enforcement and disproportionately represented among prison inmates. According to official figures, 26 per cent of inmates in England and Wales are non-white, compared to 12 per cent of the overall population there.