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UK Black Lives Matter protests spark airport traffic chaos

Police officers talk with Black Lives Matters protesters in Nottingham, England after activists blocked the tram tracks near Nottingham Theatre Royal on Friday August 5, 2016.

Edward Smith/PA Wire URN:28243634

Last Updated Aug 5, 2016 8:00 AM EDT

LONDON -- Activists linked to the U.S.-based group Black Lives Matter blocked a road leading to London's Heathrow Airport and held protests in other British cities Friday morning.

Protesters lay down on the road and displayed a sign reading "Black Live Matter, This is a crisis," the Guardian newspaper reported.

Organizer Joshua Virasami told the BBC that the movement - founded to protest the killings of black people by American police - was needed "in Britain and all over the world."

U.K. Black Lives Matter said in a statement it was holding a "shutdown" of roads in London and other cities to "mourn those who have died in custody and to protest the ongoing racist violence of the police, border enforcement, structural inequalities and the everyday indignity of street racism."

London's Metropolitan Police said officers made several arrests among those blocking a road leading from a main highway to Heathrow. Later on Friday, police at Heathrow said traffic to the airport was flowing again.

Heathrow said it's not aware of passengers missing flights because of the protest.

In other protests, a small group of demonstrators in the central England city of Nottingham lay down on tram tracks in the city, and police removed people from a road near Birmingham Airport, 100 miles north of London.

The protesters said they were marking the fifth anniversary of the death of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old black man shot by London police under disputed circumstances on Aug. 4, 2011. The killing sparked Britain's worst civil disorder in decades, five nights of rioting that spread to cities around the country.

Activists say black men in Britain are unfairly targeted by law enforcement and disproportionately represented among prison inmates. According to official figures, 26 percent of inmates in England and Wales are non-white, compared to 12 percent of the overall population there.