Made to pay af­ter cre­at­ing ‘chaos’

Protestors blocked en­trance to Heathrow

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.