Made to pay after creating ‘chaos’
Protestors blocked entrance to Heathrow
NINE protesters who caused ‘utter chaos’ when they chained themselves together and blocked a key route leading to Heathrow Airport have been found guilty of wilful obstruction of the highway.
Chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “If they do not give us justice, we won’t give them peace”, they blocked the M4 southbound spur road to the busy London airport on August 5 at about 8.25am, Willesden Magistrates’ Court heard.
Four protesters held a large black banner that said “This is a crisis” while six others formed a human chain on the ground.
They had linked their arms together using hollowed fire extinguishers filled with wire mesh and concrete.
The nine people on trial, who said they were Black Lives Matters campaigners, had denied wilfully obstructing the highway.
The defendants were Sita Balani, 29, of Southwark, south-east London, Liam Barrington-Bush, 32, Aditi Jaganathan, 27, both of Tottenham, north London, Ewa Jasiewicz, 38, of Tower Hamlets, east London, Naomi Mabita, 23, of Manchester, Aadam Muuse, 24, of no fixed address, Alison Playford, 38, of Greenford, Middlesex, Joshua Virasami, 26, of Hounslow, and Mark Weaver, 36, of Beverley, East Yorkshire.
They were all ordered to pay between £261 and £523 each, according to Hodge Jones & Allen, the law firm representing them.
Speaking after the conviction, Virasami said: “The media is reporting about Black Lives Matter and racism in our country today because protest works. This protest worked.
“A conversation around the violence of institutional racism has been reignited, but a simple conversation is never enough.”
And Mabita said: “If people want to challenge us for causing a one-hour inconvenience, surely they’ll want to challenge a system that sees families wait over 20 years for justice?”
Raj Chada, who represented the activists, said they were “disappointed in the verdict” but that the focus should remain on the issues they were protesting about.
This protest worked. A conversation around the violence of institutional racism has been reignited”
Arresting officer Sergeant Christopher Jackson told the court: “It was utter chaos, to be honest. The first thing my attention was drawn to was a huge amount of stationary traffic on the southbound lanes. People were out of their cars shouting at the protesters who were in the road and the people laying on the floor.”
There were people who seemed to know the protesters but were not involved in it stood on the side of the road.”
Members of the public were angry and shouting at the protesters.”
Another protester, Taylor Offoh, 20, of Penge, South East London, had already accepted a caution.
Black Lives Matter is an international movement set up in the US following the killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida in February 2012. It began as a way to unite the African-American community to campaign against violence and racism towards black people.
The August protest marked the fifth anniversary of the death of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old black man who was shot dead by police in Tottenham, sparking riots across England.
BLOCKADE: The Black Lives Matter protest caused jams at the spur road to Heathrow Airport in August – nine people have been found guilty of wilfully obstructing the highway Photo by WailQ