Black Lives Matter UK blocks traffic at Europe's biggest airport

Protesters obstructed major roads nationwide during busy morning traffic on Friday, marking the fifth anniversary of the police killing of a 29-year-old black man in London.
August 5, 2016, 2:46pm
Black Lives Matter activists in Nottingham on August 5. Photo by Edward Smith/AP

Drivers headed to London's Heathrow airport ran into an unexpected obstacle on Friday as Black Lives Matter-affiliated demonstrators halted traffic when they blocked a main motorway in the area.

The demonstration in London kicked off just after 8am on Friday morning. Similar protests disrupted traffic on major roads throughout the country during morning traffic, including the Birmingham airport and a main thoroughfare in Nottingham.

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Demonstrators put up a banner near the entrance of Heathrow, the busiest airport in Europe, that read "This is a Crisis" as people laid down along the five-lane roadway. Authorities detained 10 people, the BBC reported. Activists in London and Nottingham connected themselves together with tubes wrapped around their arms. Police at Heathrow were forced to cut off the bindings to clear the area.

Road get lock arff. — #BlackLivesMatterUK (@ukblm)August 5, 2016

People blocking trams are protesting with the Black Lives Matter campaign — Sandish Shoker (@ShokerMotion)August 5, 2016

The protests were planned to take place five years after London's Metropolitan Police shot Mark Duggan in the city's Tottenham area on August 4, 2011. The police killing of the 29-year-old black man incited public uproar at the time that devolved into several days of riots and looting.

"[We] have #Shutdown roads in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham 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," the UK's Black Lives Matter organization said in a statement about the protests.

"We have chosen today for our action to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Mark Duggan's death at the hands of the Metropolitan Police. We stand in solidarity with the families and friends of all who have died at the hands of the British state."

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The group's 23-year-old spokesperson Wail Qasim told CNN the demonstrations were meant to highlight deaths in police custody.

"In the UK, families have in some cases been waiting decades to find out what's happened to their loved ones who have died in custody, or to get a straight answer -- even where wrongdoing has been found to be by police officers," he said.

A video message from the group posted on Twitter earlier this week stressed recent police killings and the disproportionate number of black people targeted by British authorities. The video also highlighted the number of refugee deaths in the Mediterranean.

We call a nationwide — #BlackLivesMatterUK (@ukblm)August 3, 2016

Police are reportedly still clearing out some remaining protesters, but most of the highway lanes leading to the airport are open.