An Oxford student leader and a man who directed an opera about sex workers were among nine Black Lives Matter protesters charged with trespass after blocking the runway at London City Airport.
The protesters chained themselves together on the runway after allegedly breaching the airport’s perimeter fence, disrupting flights for more than six hours in protest at the impact of climate change on black people around the world.
It has now emerged that several of those arrested are veterans of protests against climate change and their involvement in the City airport protests has led to accusations that the British offshoot of the Black Lives Matter movement has been hijacked by middle-class white activists.
Among those charged with aggravated trespass and being unlawfully airside within a restricted area of an aerodrome was Richard Collett-White, 23, a former president of Oxford’s Exeter College Junior Common Room (JCR) student body.
Mr Collett-White, of Kempston, Bedfordshire, led a student strike against high food prices at the college in 2014, arguing that students were being forced to pay £280 a term simply for the privilege of setting foot in the only on-site eating place.
Alex Etchart, another of those charged yesterday following Tuesday’s protest, describes himself as a community musician and last year directed an opera about sex workers, featuring real life burlesque dancers and others who work in the sex industry.
The 26-year-old, who lives on a houseboat on the Rivert Stort, near Roydon, Essex, has previously taken part in the Occupy London protests and anti-fracking camps.
Two of those charged, William Pettifer, 27, who works on an organic farm in Radford, Somerset, and Esme Waldron, 23, a student from Brighton, took part in the blockade of Heathrow Airport in November last year.
This saw anti-climate change activists occupy the entrance tunnel to Terminals 1, 2 and 3 for nearly five hours, leading to widespread disruption for travellers.
Miss Waldron said at the time: For most of us, all we gain from new runways is dirtier air, more noise and more floods due to climate change. This is an issue of class; a familiar story of a rich and powerful elite trampling over the livelihoods of those lacking power.
Also charged was Natalie Fiennes, a former student at London School of Economics, who last year took part in the six-week occupation of its central London campus in protest at student fees.
Miss Fiennes, 25, of Wandsworth, south London, has also taken part in Climate Camp protests.
Those charged also include Ben Tippett, 24, also a former LSE student from Wandsworth, and Sam Lund-Harket, 32, who is a leading activist with the campaign group Global Justice Now.
Mr Lund-Harket, who also lives on a houseboat on the River Stort, has previously been active in the anti-climate change groups Reclaim the Power and Grow Heathrow.
The others charged were Sama Baka, 27, who also lives on a houseboat at Roydon and Deborah Frances Grayson, 31, of Slough.
Ms Grayson was one of six anti-fracking protesters who locked themselves to a fire engine outside Cuadrilla’s oil exploration site at Balcombe, West Sussex, in August 2013.
All nine were released on bail to appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, 14 September.
The protest at the east London, which not only serves business travellers but residents in the most ethnically diverse parts of the capital, was criticised by several veteran black activists yesterday.
Stafford Scott, the co-founder of the Broadwater Farm Defence Campaign, wrote on Twitter: Black Lives Matter is fast becoming a joke and said the protesters were embarrassing black people.
News Source TelegraphNews