Police Arrest Six In NYC Heliport Demonstration

Environmentalists call the protest a “last resort.”

A little more than a week after unsuccessfully attempting to block the entrance to the annual Burning Man Festival in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, with signs calling for “banning private jets,” the same environmentalist group attempted to shut down New York City’s West 30th Street Heliport (KJRA) on September 13.

Holding banners that decried helicopters as “luxury emissions,” members of Extinction Rebellion (XR) tried to block ground vehicles from entering or leaving the heliport for approximately 90 minutes beginning at 3:20 p.m. local time. Some protestors used lock-ons in an attempt to block passenger access. Six people were arrested and New York City police eventually dispersed the protestors.

A spokesman for Blade Urban Air Mobility, a major KJRA tenant, told BJT that the protest did not disrupt normal operations and that company personnel were on hand to safely escort passengers to and from aircraft and the facility. XR claimed it succeeded in disrupting flights “the same way severe storms would.”

XR said the action was a precursor to a larger protest in which it planned to participate on September 15 in New York City. Charles Komanoff, who XR described as a “bicycle activist and transportation analyst,” said the heliport was targeted because “Helicopters are a pestilence to New Yorkers and a rotten pinnacle of an economic system that places pleasure over planetary survival. We must stop them.”

XR spokesman Jack Baldwin called the action a “last resort. Moderate action won’t do anymore.” XR also discounted any potential benefits from future electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, stating, “simply electrifying wasteful, unnecessary transportation will not avert the [environmental] catastrophes we’re already seeing” and claiming that deteriorating weather conditions caused by climate change will create conditions in New York “where helicopters won’t be able to safely fly—electric or not.”