Britain greets Trump with protests, ‘Trump Baby’ balloon
LONDON — A team of “babysitters” in orange jackets pumped helium into a giant “Trump Baby” balloon on Friday and let it soar above Westminster Abbey, kicking off a day of large, peaceful, often mocking protests against President Donald Trump’s visit here.
Although there were rallies across Britain, the largest was in central London. The protesters came to march for a dozen different reasons and as many causes. In the slowly moving throng, there were “drag queens against Trump,” “families against Trump,” “trumpeteers against Trump” — you name it.
Police did not give an official estimate of the crowd size. Organizers claimed more than 100,000 were on the streets.
The demonstrators looked like London: urbane and liberal, they brought their kids and dogs along. A lot of their signs were handmade and droll.
In interviews, some said they thought Trump a bully. Others described him as a misogynist or sexual aggressor. There were a lot of signs with the word “grab” this or that.
The marchers said they worried about climate change, the European Union, immigrants, Palestine, gay rights, civility and rise of right-wing populism. The word “fascist” was used. A lot of them mentioned Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents when caught illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, an enforcement tool now put back in the box.
They were a diverse assemblage — not dominated by activists. There was a handmade vibe.
Although the U.S. Embassy in London warned Americans to “keep a low profile” during the demonstrations, for fear they could be attacked, the crowds were filled with American tourists and U.S. citizens living abroad.
Like Trump, the personal and political combined.
“I think that when you disrespect, you are going to be disrespected,” said Paul Phillips, 54, a tourist visiting from Buffalo, New York, who watched the Trump Baby balloon — depicting the president as an angry baby wearing a diaper and clutching a cellphone — go aloft.
Humor is an essential part of any British protest, and it was on full display, from the baby blimp to the many placards, like the one that said “Special relationship? I want a divorce” or “Overcomb Brexit.”
Some of the placards were crude and R-rated, but protesters insisted that the president was crude and R-rated and so it was OK. One group marched with a large golden middle finger; several women carried signs referencing Trump’s famous Access Hollywood audio recording.
You could tell some of the marchers tried hard. Other placards read: “So Bad Even Introverts Are Here” and “Super Callous Fragile Ego Trump, You Are Atrocious” and “God save the Queen from the Rotten Tangerine.”
And there were ones with a distinct British feel, such as, “Yankee Go Home and Take Boris With You.”
In the interview with The Sun newspaper, Trump grumbled about the protests. “I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London,” he told the paper. “I used to love London as a city. I haven’t been there in a long time. But when they make you feel unwelcome, why would I stay there?”
A cartoon baby blimp of U.S. President Donald Trump rises up in London’s Parliament Square Friday as part of a protest against the president’s visit.