Protests mark Trump’s U.K. visit

De­mon­stra­tors got cre­ative in show­ing dis­plea­sure

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS - DAN­ICA KIRKA

ONDON — Thou­sands crammed the streets of cen­tral Lon­don on Fri­day to vent their anger over U.S Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s first of­fi­cial visit to Bri­tain, blow­ing horns, wav­ing ban­ners and hoist­ing a bright or­ange ef­figy of the U.S. pres­i­dent on their shoul­ders

Fil­ing past palaces of high-end com­merce — Ap­ple, Burberry, Brooks Broth­ers — marchers crit­i­cized Trump’s poli­cies on im­mi­gra­tion, cli­mate change and tor­ture, as well as his treat­ment of women. Some car­ried more than one sign, un­able to choose which pol­icy they hated the most.

Rev. Nigel Sinclair, a 53-year-old Church of Eng­land preacher, came in what he called his Sun­day vicar’s out­fit, car­ry­ing a sign that showed how Trump’s ideas dif­fer from those of Je­sus Christ. Susie Mazur, 29, from Sal­is­bury in south­west­ern Eng­land, cro­cheted a Don­ald Trump pin­cush­ion and wore it on her head, win­ning praise from fel­low protesters.

“Peo­ple com­ing here nowa­days feel very hope­less about what is hap­pen­ing. They don’t like what is hap­pen­ing in the U.K., in Amer­ica, across the world — there are so many prob­lems,” Mazur said. “Ev­ery­one has the same goal. What they want is to stop hate, ba­si­cally.”

As Trump met with Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May at her coun­try re­treat out­side the city, the protesters gath­ered out­side em­bassies, of­fices and homes

Lcar­ry­ing signs that read, “Hu­man rights have no bor­der,” and “Mother Earth unites us,” be­fore march­ing past the shops of Re­gent’s Street on their way to Pic­cadilly Cir­cus and fi­nally Trafal­gar Square, which the city calls a “cen­tre of na­tional democ­racy and protest.”

The day be­gan with a gi­ant bal­loon that car­i­ca­tured Trump as a scream­ing or­ange baby fly­ing out­side the Houses of Par­lia­ment. The di­a­per-clad in­fant, with a quiff of hair and a mo­bile phone for tweet­ing, was the cen­tre­piece of demon­stra­tions.

“De­pict­ing Trump as a baby is a great way of tar­get­ing his frag­ile ego, and mock­ing him is our main mo­ti­va­tion,” said Matthew Bon­ner, one of the or­ga­niz­ers of the bal­loon flight.

“He doesn’t seem to be af­fected by the mo­ral out­rage that comes from his be­hav­iour and his poli­cies. You can’t rea­son with him, but you can ridicule him.”

Hun­dreds crammed Par­lia­ment Square to take in the spec­ta­cle. Deb­o­rah Burns, 43, of New­cas­tle in north­ern Eng­land, brought along her 10-year old daugh­ter, Mon­ica Sid­dique.

“I think it’s a good way to stop Trump from be­ing mean to the rest of the world,” Mon­ica said of the bal­loon. “He says, ‘Oh, this is a free world.’ But then he goes and builds walls... he acts like a baby.”

Some Amer­i­cans liv­ing in Lon­don came to see the bal­loon, wear­ing the Stars and Stripes draped over their shoul­ders. Other spec­ta­tors just came to take pic­tures as the bal­loon floated over­head for two hours.

“It’s a very British way of protest­ing — we don’t like to throw stones,” said Phil Chap­man, 59, of Hay­field, a vil­lage in Derbyshire. “It’s far eas­ier to protest in a pleas­ant way. If you can do that with hu­mour, you will get more at­ten­tion.”

Trump crit­i­cized Lon­don Mayor Sadiq Khan, who re­fused to pre­vent the bal­loon from fly­ing, in an in­ter­view pub­lished Fri­day.

“I think he has not been hos­pitable to a gov­ern­ment that is very im­por­tant,” Trump told Bri­tain’s Sun news­pa­per. “Now, he might not like the cur­rent pres­i­dent, but I rep­re­sent the United States. I also rep­re­sent a lot of peo­ple in Europe, be­cause a lot of peo­ple from Europe are in the United States.”

Khan said his job was to make sure the protests were peace­ful, not to act as a cen­sor or be an “ar­biter of good taste.”

“The idea that I would stop a blimp or a bal­loon fly­ing over Lon­don be­cause it may cause of­fence, and thereby cur­tail the rights peo­ple have to protest when it’s not un­safe, it’s not un-peace­ful, I think peo­ple would find a bit as­ton­ish­ing,” Khan told the BBC.

Anger over Trump’s visit has been sim­mer­ing ever since May in­vited the pres­i­dent for a state visit just a week af­ter his in­au­gu­ra­tion last year. The event, which would nor­mally in­clude glit­ter­ing horse-drawn car­riages and a state din­ner hosted by the monarch, mor­phed into a two-day “work­ing visit” with much less pomp and cir­cum­stance amid con­cern about se­cu­rity and crowds in cen­tral Lon­don.

Trump avoided the protests by stay­ing away from the cap­i­tal. Af­ter a black-tie din­ner 100 kilo­me­tres out­side Lon­don, he spent Thurs­day night at the U.S. am­bas­sador’s res­i­dence in Re­gents Park, then flew by he­li­copter to May’s coun­try re­treat for his meet­ing with the prime min­is­ter, fol­lowed by an­other flight to Wind­sor Palace for tea with the Queen.

He then headed for Scot­land, where he was to spend the week­end at one of his pri­vate golf clubs. Ahead of Trump’s ar­rival, hun­dreds of peo­ple gath­ered in Scot­land’s largest city, Glas­gow, to protest the U.S. pres­i­dent’s U.K. visit.

Among them was 67-year-old Emily Bryce, who proudly car­ried a home­made ban­ner writ­ten in Gaelic, read­ing “Don­ald Trump, son of the devil.”

“It’s a dis­grace that Theresa May has al­lowed Trump to visit the U.K. and to meet the queen,” Bryce said.

A march in sup­port of Trump was planned for to­day in Lon­don, start­ing at the U.S. Em­bassy on the south bank of the River Thames and end­ing near the prime min­is­ter’s res­i­dence at Down­ing Street. But on Fri­day, the crowds be­longed to those who op­pose his poli­cies.

Plac­ards read­ing “Dump Trump” and “Can’t comb over sex­ism” were raised high by the bois­ter­ous crowds in the cap­i­tal.

MATT DUNHAM / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A gi­ant bal­loon de­pict­ing U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump as a whin­ing baby was the cen­tre­piece of demon­stra­tions in Lon­don on Fri­day.

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