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.

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