Black Lives Matter UK shuts down London City Airport runway in climate change action

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Members of a Britain-based Black Lives Matter group temporarily shut down a runway of the London City Airport on Tuesday morning, in an attempt to draw attention to climate change's disparate impact on people of color.

Nine activists reportedly chained themselves to a tripod on the runway of the airport, causing departure delays and the diverting of arriving flights. According to media reports, police unlocked and arrested the nine activists, allowing airport officials to reopen the runway by noon local time.

The BLM group announced its protest via Twitter, and police were called around 5:40 a.m. local time, according to  the BBC. Police began arresting the activists after 9:30 a.m., according to UK-based BuzzFeed News reporter Patrick Smith.

The activists were taken to police stations in east London, BuzzFeed reported.

Police converge on the runway where Black Lives Matter activists chained themselves together, at the London City Airport.  DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/Getty Images
Emergency services personnel surround Black Lives Matter protests on the runway of the London City Airport.  DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/Getty Images

BLM UK, via Twitter and through a statement emailed to BuzzFeed, confirmed that it was responsible for the protest. The group said it sought to "highlight the UK's environmental impact on the lives of black people locally and globally."

The activists added in their statement: "Black people are the first to die, not the first to fly, in this racist climate crisis."

It was not clear Tuesday morning whether the UK group's actions were part of a network-wide effort to draw attention to climate change. In early August, U.S.-based activists released a Movement for Black Lives policy platform which includes the demand that "land, clean air, clean water and housing" be restored for black people.

The action at the airport follows weeks of protests by BLM activists in the United Kingdom, including those drawing attention to the police-involved deaths of black Brits and immigrants.

This is a developing story and it will be updated.