BLACK rights activists shut down transport routes across England yesterday in protest against institutional racism and deaths in police custody that haven’t led to a single officer conviction since 1969.
Traffic was brought to a standstill by Black Lives Matter UK (BLMUK) activists who locked arms in a human chain and lay on busy motorways and tramlines in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham.
A BLMUK spokesperson said: “We shut down major transport hubs because the conventional avenues to justice have been shut down to us.
“Friends and families of those killed in custody have been failed by police, the judiciary, the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the legislature. We stand with them.
“A few hours’ wait in traffic is nothing compared to the 24 years Leon Patterson’s family have spent fighting for justice [after the 31-year-old died in 1992 in police custody in Manchester].
“Leon was killed in police custody. He had 32 wounds to his body, including part of his nose cut off. There has been no accountability.
“A pathologist admitted in court to fabricating evidence about Leon’s cause of death. Yet no-one has been charged.
“To be stuck in traffic is an irritation. To be denied justice for decades is a crisis.”
The campaign group timed demos for the fifth anniversary of the 2011 death of Mark Duggan — who an inquest jury decided was “lawfully killed” by a police marksman.
The shooting in Tottenham, north London, sparked riots that summer that lasted at least six days in major towns and cities in England including Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester.
Protesters caused disruption near Heathrow Airport on an M4 slip road by locking themselves together and lying in the road under a banner that read: “This is a crisis.”
Four people were arrested and remain in custody, Scotland Yard said. Six others, who were locked together, were arrested and police are in the process of releasing them.
The tram system in Nottingham had to close because four people locked together lay on the city centre tracks. Roads in Manchester and Birmingham were also shut down.
Footage showed police officers pulling demonstrators away from the middle of the road near Birmingham Airport. West Midlands Police said four women and one man were arrested.
Police said they put up screens around the protesters so that motorists would not be distracted.
Activists targeted airports because “many people are either being killed at our borders or being sent back to certain death,” according to BLMUK campaigner Adam Elliott Cooper, 29.
A BLMUK activist said in a Facebook video that there have been “1,562 deaths in police custody in my lifetime” — with no officer convictions.
Another campaigner said black people are “up to 37 times more likely” to be stopped and searched and face “far more severe” sentencing than white people for the same offences.
Because of this, it is “vital” that the BLMUK movement is supported in Britain, said Unite Against Fascism and Stand Up to Racism spokesman Weyman Bennett.
He added: “Institutional racism is ignored and when people raise, it it is attacked. It’s also vital we understand that racism is still a definite part and a fundamental flaw in our divided society.
“The aim is not to disrupt people’s holidays — we want to raise the voice of people whose justice is denied.”
Lamiat Sabin Morning Star August 6th
19 people have been arrested during these demonstrations.