The UK-based Black Lives Matter group, which has shut down major traffic arteries over police brutality, took their cause to the London City airport this week over worsening climate conditions in Africa.
Flights were cancelled after nine protesters from Black Lives Matter UK got on to the runway and chained themselves together.
“Today’s BLM protest at London City airport makes perfect sense: whether it’s via air pollution or police detention, race inequality is alive and kicking in Britain,” said Alexandra Wanjiku Kelbert, a BLM member writing for The Guardian.
“On the one hand Britain is the biggest contributor per capita to global temperature change. It is also one of the least vulnerable to the effects of climate change. On the other hand, seven of the 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change are in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Climate change effects are not limited to black people, she said, but “it is communities in the global south that bear the brunt of the consequences of climate change, whether physical – floods, desertification, increased water scarcity and tornadoes – or political: conflict and racist borders.
“While a tiny elite can fly to and from London City airport, sometimes as a daily commute, this year alone 3,176 migrants have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean, trying to reach safety on the shores of Europe.”
“When we say black lives matter, we mean all black lives,” she clarified. “And that includes the lives of those who live in proximity to airports, to power plants, to the busiest of roads, and whose children grow up with asthma, and skin conditions exacerbated by air pollution. Black British Africans are 28% more likely than their white counterparts to be exposed to air pollution.”
The BLM’s charges were echoed by the U.N.’s Environmental Program (UNEP) which stated in a fact sheet: “Africa’s survival is at risk. No continent will be struck as severely by the impacts of climate change… Given its geographical position, the continent will be particularly vulnerable,” they asserted, blaming it on “widespread poverty and the existing low levels of development.”
The group called for further protests this week over a deportation flight to Jamaica later this month.
Black Lives Matter UK was launched last month as an offshoot of the international movement set up in the US following the killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida four years ago.