By Andrea Romano
October 14, 2019
Rob Pinney/LNP/Shutterstock

James Brown, an Irish climate change protester who also happens to be a former paralympian, was arrested for climbing on top of a British Airways plane at London City Airport on Thursday, the BBC reported. Brown caused quite the scene during the flight, which was scheduled to fly from London to Amsterdam.

The visually impaired cyclist, who won bronze in the London 2012 Paralympics, is part of a climate change activist group called Extinction Rebellion, according to the Independent

Extinction Rebellion is just one of many groups protesting air travel's impact on climate change. According to the Air Transport Action Group, air travel accounts for 2 percent of global CO2 emissions.

Brown live-streamed himself climbing on top of the airplane and explained, “We’re protesting against government inaction on climate and ecological breakdown. They declare a climate emergency and then do nothing about it.”

He climbed on the plane during boarding, according to the Independent, however he eventually stopped the live-stream because he was becoming “dizzy” and said he was “scared” of heights.

He had a valid ticket and had passed through security without an issue.

A suspected fellow protester, who was also filming Brown’s protest from the ground, was taken into custody for allegedly helping him get his plane ticket.

An Extinction Rebellion protester is removed from a British Airways Plane at London City Airport.
George Cracknell Wright/LNP/Shutterstock

He spent about an hour on the plane before being taken away by police, who used a cherry-picker to safely get him down, according to the BBC.

“That was a reckless, stupid and dangerous thing to do for all concerned,” Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick told the outlet. “But I think you can see that it is quite a hard thing to predict or stop from happening.”

But Brown was not the only Extinction Rebellion protester to be arrested at London City Airport on Thursday. Another man, who has yet to be identified, refused to sit in his seat aboard an Aer Lingus flight bound for Dublin.

BBC political editor Nicolas Watt was aboard the same flight and tweeted updates about the man, saying he “stood up with [his] iPhone to deliver a lecture on climate change up and down the aisle.”

Watt added that the man remained calm and polite, even when refusing the cabin crew’s orders to take his seat. The man was escorted off the plane after it taxied back to the gate.

“And the final irony of the climate protest on our flight. We cannot take off until we have taken on extra fuel...to replace the fuel used up during the protest, our pilot notes with humour,” Watt tweeted.

According to the BBC, Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor said there is no law prohibiting a protester from buying a plane ticket.

“There is a difference between a security threat and a protest threat,” he said.

In all, 50 protesters were arrested at London City Airport on Thursday, according to the BBC. Some had allegedly glued themselves to the floors and pavements while others blocked entrances. By the afternoon, police said most of the protesters had left the airport.

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