England

Black Lives Matter protests stop cars and trams across England

Black Lives Matter campaigners Image copyright Edward Smith/PA Wire
Image caption Activists outside Nottingham Theatre Royal shut down part of the city centre tram and bus network to protest for social justice movement

Black Lives Matter protesters blocked roads in Nottingham, Birmingham and the M4 at Heathrow, in a day of anti-racist activism.

Campaigners lay on the slip road to the airport in London, tram tracks in Nottingham and on a road near Birmingham airport on Friday morning.

The co-ordinated act came a day after the fifth anniversary of the death of Mark Duggan, who was shot by police.

Police arrested 19 people in connection with the protests.

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Media captionAmateur video shows Black Lives Matter campaigners trying to obstruct the slip road to Heathrow airport

The demonstrations caused severe delays to holidaymakers driving to Heathrow airport after activists barricaded the junction.

At the same time, they caused major disruption to trams, buses and traffic in Nottingham city centre at the height of rush hour.

Wail Qasim, who helped organise the Heathrow protest, said: "There's a constant disruption of black people's lives in the everyday.

"There are everyday forms of racism you face in terms of stop and search, increased levels of unemployment, over-representation within mental health custody, the prison system - this is an ongoing disruption to black people's lives which they constantly face".

Image copyright @WailQ
Image caption Heathrow Airport said the chaos on the motorway did not appear to cause people to miss flights

Cara Thompson, part of the Nottingham movement, said: "We need people to listen, to really stop and listen to what is happening to black people - not just in the USA.

"The murder of our kids, our families, the fact that black people are three times less likely to be hired for a job."

Image copyright Rob Davies
Image caption The protesters lay down in the road at the height of Nottingham's rush hour

Arms in concrete

The national organisation, which describes itself as a network of anti-racists, said the UK needs a movement similar to the campaign in the US.

"[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.

"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."

There have been no reports of disruption in Manchester, but a demonstration is expected in the city later.

Image caption Some of the protesters' arms were linked with tubes which appeared to be sealed in concrete

What is Black Lives Matter?

  • The movement began in the US in 2012 after George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin in Florida
  • It was founded by three women who have described it as "an ideological and political intervention in a world where black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise."
  • Last month hundreds of people supporting the campaign marched through central London to the Houses of Parliament in protest at the shooting of black men by police in the US
  • Nottingham activists claim they were the first city to form a Black Lives Matter group in the UK last year
  • There is now a UK-wide network which they say focuses on campaigning for black people who have died at the hands of police in this country

Traffic in parts of Nottingham city centre was "gridlocked" during rush hour when protesters lay across tram tracks outside the Theatre Royal.

Image caption The protesters linked arms while lying on the track

At the same time, campaigners blocked the slip road to Heathrow from the M4 motorway, causing tailbacks for holiday-makers.

A spokesman for the airport said they did not think anyone missed their flight as a result of the action.

In both cases, barriers were put up around the protesters to shield them from the view of passing motorists.

Officers were seen putting goggles on the eyes of the activists as they used specialist cutting machinery to open casts placed over their linked arms.

The tubes over their arms appeared to have been sealed with concrete.

Police arrested ten people at the Heathrow protest, five in Birmingham and four in Nottingham.

Nottinghamshire Police later confirmed they had charged four people with the wilful obstruction of a highway.

Further protests are expected across the country on Friday evening.

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