Holiday makers heading to Birmingham and Heathrow airports faced delays this morning as Black Lives Matter protesters blocked the main roads towards the hubs by lying on the tarmac and chaining themselves together. The protesters also laid on tram tracks in Nottingham city centre.
— Hannah (@hannahnuura) August 5, 2016
Five people were arrested for obstructing the highway near Birmingham and police had removed the protesters from the road by 9am. A further ten have been arrested on the Heathrow route, where protesters chained themselves together.
A Heathrow spokesman said the protest does not appear to be causing people to miss flights, adding: “Heathrow supports the right to peaceful protest within the law, but the safety and security of our passengers, aircraft and colleagues, together with the smooth running of the operation, is paramount.
“We are sorry to those passengers whose journeys are being disrupted and we are working with the authorities to resolve the issue.”
— William Davies (@WilwithoneL) August 5, 2016
— #BlackLivesMatterUK (@ukblm) August 5, 2016
— #BlackLivesMatterUK (@ukblm) August 5, 2016
In Nottingham, the protesters laid down on tram tracks to prevent the city’s transport network from operating. Screens were put up by police in both Nottingham and Heathrow to prevent drivers from being distracted by the protest.
— Nicky (@Lilsmirror) August 5, 2016
It is believed the group are taking part in a national day of action as part of #BlackAugust, a campaign to raise awareness of racism, the Telegraph has reported.
The group have held up Mark Duggan as a poster boy for the movement. Duggan was shot by five years ago, fifteen minutes after taking possession of an illegal handgun, by officers who had been surveilling him as part of Operation Trident, a Metropolitan police branch tasked with dealing with gang and gun crime. His death triggered days of rioting in London and other British cities.
Black Lives Matter’s Facebook page for the day of action cites his death as a key factor in the protest. “5 years ago. 1 day after they killed Mark Duggan. 1 day before the riots. A moment for rage, reflection and rebuilding. A moment for coordinated nationwide action,” the page reads.
The group released an official statement via a spokesperson this morning, reading: “This morning UKBLM 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.
“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. We take action because justice has not been delivered through conventional means: the police, the IPCC, the courts or the legislature.
“UKBLM is a network of anti-racist activists from across the UK who believe deeply that #BlackLivesMatter. We believe the time is now for a Black Lives Matter movement in the UK to #Shutdown a nationwide crisis of racism.”
The group has also found favour with parts of the mainstream media, including the BBC, which has published a supportive article quoting organiser Joshua Virasami, who told the BBC black people should come together “to achieve justice and equality in Britain and all over the world”.
“We need black people all over the world to come together, groups and individuals,” he said. “We’re asking the government to take responsibility, not just to investigate the statistics but to hear the demands of the communities.”
According to the Black Lives Matter website, those demands including “End[ing] the war on black people”; “reparations for harms inflicted on Black People: from colonialism to slavery through food and housing redlining, mass incarceration and surveillance”; and “economic justice for all [including restructuring] the economy to ensure that Black communities have collective ownership, not merely access”.
The BBC also cites Dr. Tony Sewell from the Youth Justice Board, who told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that 21 per cent of males under 18 in custody in England and Wales were black – though just 4 per cent of the general population are black – while 60 per cent of males under 18 in custody were white, compared to 82 per cent of the general population.
“That is a scandal, that’s what we should really be looking at,” he said.
However, no mention was made of why black males are over-represented in the criminal justice system.
A 2007 government study found that single parenthood was far more prevalent in the black community than any other in Britain. A staggering forty-eight per cent of black Caribbean families are single parent households, as are 36 per cent of black African households.
By comparison, just one in ten Indian ethnicity households, nearly one in seven Chinese ethnicity households, and just over one in five white British households are single parent families.
Ninety per cent of single parent families are fatherless.
The think tank Civitas found that children who grow up without their biological father are more likely to be unemployed, commit crime, and leave education early. They are also more likely to end up homeless.