Hundreds of Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists have infiltrated London City Airport and attempted a three-day ‘Hong Kong-style occupation of the terminal building’ to protest against the airport’s planned £2bn expansion, saying that this contradicts the government’s commitment towards carbon-neutrality by 2050.
The police have already arrested more than 1,000 climate change protestors, 50 of which were protesting outside London City Airport. A group sat outside the airport chanting “Fly today, gone tomorrow” in unison, causing disruption for members of the public.
Among the ones who were arrested was former Metropolitan Police detective John Curran who glued himself to the pavement outside the airport.
— Catrin Nye (@CatrinNye) October 10, 2019
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He said in a video: “The United Nations has said that we have 11 years to halve our carbon emissions. So which is more irrational? Me glueing my hand to a pavement or encouraging even more people to fly?”
While the bulk of activists failed to penetrate security and get inside airport terminals, some managed to get in.
A blind Paralympian, James Brown climbed on top of a British Airways plane and stopped it taking off. While doing so, he recorded a live streaming video where he said: “This is all about the climate and ecological crisis. We’re protesting at government inaction on climate and ecological breakdown. They declare a climate emergency and do nothing about it.”
Another ZR member who boarded a flight to Dublin stood up to speak about the effects of the climate crisis and was held for failing to comply with the orders of the captain. He was then taken by the police.
— Warren Swalbe (@wazzas) October 10, 2019
A protestor even climbed atop of the barb-wired roof inside the airport and shouted: ”Shut this airport down.”
Breaking: A man’s just climbed onto the roof at London City Airport.
— Rachael Venables (@rachaelvenables) October 10, 2019
Police officers resorted to dealing with activists with violence and dragged them out of the airport. Footage on social media showed an officer instructing colleagues to “use pain and compliance” as they grappled with protesters on the ground outside of the airport.
“Use pain and compliance!”
— Netpol (@netpol) October 10, 2019
— Livvy Doherty (@LivvyDoherty) October 10, 2019
“Rebels are using their bodies and risking their freedom to peacefully close the London City Airport,” the group said on its Facebook livestream.
ZR said in a statement: “These acts do not come without deep emotional sacrifices. It is terrifying to glue, lock, sit and march; our paralympian cried many times in the hours before his ascent. But we are driven on, bound by our commitment to what is true and good.”
Despite these demonstrations, a spokesperson from London City airport said it remained “fully open and operational”, but the international travel hub warned passengers to check the status of their flights with their airlines.
“Thanks for your patience if you’re travelling today as we implement boarding pass checks at the entrance, due to the threat of protester activity,” the airport tweeted on 10 October.
“Over 40 flights have arrived or departed so far. We continue to work with @metpoliceuk to minimise disruption.”
It added: “We can confirm that a number of protesters have arrived at the airport. We continue to work with @metpoliceuk to ensure the safe operation of the airport, which remains fully open & operational. As of 0915 there have been over 60 flights which have either arrived or departed.”
We can confirm that a number of protesters have arrived at the airport. We continue to work with @metpoliceuk to ensure the safe operation of the airport, which remains fully open & operational. As of 0915 there have been over 60 flights which have either arrived or departed.1/1
— London City Airport (@LondonCityAir) October 10, 2019
Protests were also staged at the airport’s Docklands Light Railway station, outside its main entrance and on roads leading to the site.
The airport occupation is part of Extinction Rebellion’s two-week protest to demand greater government action on the climate crisis. The group says extreme weather caused by climate change would lead to crop losses, food crises, social unrest and damage to infrastructure.