PROTEST group Black Lives Matter have wreaked havoc across the Heathrow perimeter and shut down roads in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham in a nationwide day of rage.
Black Lives Matter UK (UKBLM) is a British spin-off of the American movement which has catapulted itself into a tumultuous debate on racial politics and the role of police in the unlawful killings and outright murders of black citizens, typically young men and teenagers.
“Black Lives Matter, this is a crisis” read an unfurled banner straddling the road accessing Heathrow tunnel on Friday August 5 and a spokesman for the nascent group said:
“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.”
Mark Duggan was a 29-year-old Tottenham resident shot and killed by police in heavily disputed circumstances which became the catalyst for London’s worst rioting in a generation in August 2011.
Chaos quickly erupted across the country in a five-day rampage of looting, arson and lethal violence, prompting national soul-searching as to the root causes of the social unrest, with the usual suspects of moral decay, consumerism, poverty and institutional oppression cited.
Black Lives Matter emerged from the hopelessness following the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman, an overzealous self-described neighbourhood watchman, who shot dead a black teenager he accused of attacking him.
Subsequent police killings of unarmed black men sparking protests across the country have strengthened the group’s status and resolve, encouraging British activists to establish a parallel movement.
UKBLM argue that black Britons are being systematically discriminated against by the state, with far higher chances of being stopped and searched, convicted of crimes, given unreasonably harsh sentences and killed in custody.
British police are now bracing themselves for a tough day ahead with UKBLM events scheduled in Manchester, Nottingham and London later this evening.