Black Lives Matter activists plead guilty to London City Airport protest

The Black Lives Matter protest lasted six hours at London CIty Airport

Nine Black Lives Matter activists have pleaded guilty to staging a protest at London City Airport which grounded up to 131 flights.

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The protesters managed to block the airport’s single runway for six hours after storming it on September 6 at around 5.30am, London’s Westminster Magistrates Court heard.

The nine defendants all pleaded guilty to aggravated trespass by disrupting a person engaged in a lawful activity, when they appeared in the dock at the central London court.

All were given an 18-month conditional discharge except for two defendants who had convictions for previous similar protests.

Deborah Francis-Grayson, 31, of St Mary’s Road, Slough, was given a three-year conditional discharge while Alex Etchart, 26, who lives on a houseboat called the Northern Soul, was given a two-year conditional discharge.

They reached the runway using inflatable rafts and climbed up from the dock.

BLM activists plead guilty

Sam Lund-Harket (Picture: Central News)

BLM activists plead guilty

Esme Waldron (Picture: Central News)

One man chained themselves to a tripod while the others fixed themselves togather in an armlock using a metal tube and expandable foam.

Prosecutor Philip McGhee said: ‘The police attended. The runway had to be closed to traffic. The group had been wearing wetsuits. They were chanting various things including Black Lives Matter, and about climate change.

‘When the police attempted to engage with them, they gave no comment.’

BLM activists plead guilty

Richard C White and Alex Etchart (Picture: Central News)

BLM activists plead guilty

Sama Baka (Picture: Central News)

BLM activists plead guilty

William Pettifer (Picture: Central News)

By the time it was possible to safely separate the group, up to 131 flights had been cancelled or affected, along with around 9,000 passengers who would have been on business and personal trips.

While the protest was taking place the defendants filmed themselves on social media.

They said they were taking action ‘in order to highlight the UK’s environmental impact on the lives of black people locally and globally’.

BLM activists plead guilty

Ben Tippet (Picture: Central News)

BLM activists plead guilty

Natalie Fiennes (Picture: Central News)

The defendants are William Pettifer, 27, of Radford Mill Farm, Radford; Esme Waldron, 23, of Walmer Crescent, Brighton; Sama Baka, 27, Alex Etchart, 26, and Sam Lund-Harket, 32, who all live on a houseboat called the Northern Soul; Natalie Fiennes, 25, of Thurleigh Road, Wandsworth; Deborah Francis-Grayson, 31, of St Mary’s Road, Slough; Richard Collet-White, 23, of Spring Road, Kempston; Ben Tippet, 24, of Thurleigh Road, Wandsworth.

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