US President Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK has sparked a “Carnival of Resistance” across the country, with a giant balloon depicting the US president as an orange baby was hoisted into the London sky over parliament.
Friday’s “Carnival of Resistance” has been planned in some 50 cities across Britain – from Newcastle and York to Brighton – and is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people in what organisers hope will be “one of the biggest demonstrations in British history” to protest against Trump’s policies.
“It’s to denounce Donald Trump’s visit, but also his policies which are homophobic, sexist, climate sceptic, and undignified migration policies that separates children from their migrant parents. Donald Trump isn’t welcome in the United Kingdom,” Shabbir Lakha, one of the organisers of the nationwide carnival, told FRANCE 24 on the eve of the protests.
The centrepiece of Friday’s protests is a 20-foot (6-metre) tall diaper-clad Trump balloon, with a quiff of yellow hair and a mobile phone, that was hoisted over the Houses of Parliament on Friday morning. The blimp was made reality after a crowd-funding campaign raised 20,000 pounds ($26,400) to make it.
“We’re holding a mirror up to the toddler in chief – and showing the president that we deplore his tantrums,” Nona Hurkmans, a spokesperson for the group behind the balloon, told the Huffington Post before the balloon was launched.
“We look forward to seeing the baby fly.”
At 2pm GMT the protesters will march through central London from Portland Place outside the BBC to Trafalgar Square, where a rally will be held between 4-6pm.
The “Carnival of Resistance” organisers, from a loose coalition of groups and individuals who oppose Trump’s policies, have been meticulous in their planning of the event, dedicating a whole website to “make clear to the British government that it’s not OK to normalise Trump’s agenda”. The website is complete with a countdown clock, maps, schedules and other handy information for those who want to join Friday’s rally. They’ve also arranged for hundreds of buses to bring protesters from more than a dozen British cities into London.
“Bring banners, loudhailers, sound systems and everything you need to kickstart the revolution,” they wrote.
Helicopters for transport
British anger over Trump’s visit has already had consequences. Just a week after Trump’s inauguration, Prime Minister Theresa May invited the president for a state visit, the type of event that normally includes glittering horse-drawn carriages and a state dinner hosted by the monarch. That morphed into this two-day “working visit” with much less pomp and circumstance amid concern about security and crowds in central London.
Trump will spend very little time in London, having stayed in the capital for a single, well-insulated night at the official residence of the US ambassador in Regent’s Park.
Trump’s Marine One departure from the ambassador’s residence was met by jeers from demonstrators banging pots and pans, and another pack of protesters lined roads near the palace. Some of their signs read “Dump Trump,” ”Lock Him Up” and “There Will Be Hell Toupee.”
After arriving in Britain on Thursday afternoon, Trump had dinner at Winston Churchill’s birthplace, Blenheim Palace, about 60 miles (100 kilometres) outside London. On Friday he will travel to the prime minister’s country residence, Chequers, for talks with May. Instead of a procession down The Mall to Buckingham Palace, he’ll be helicoptered to the garden at Windsor Castle for tea with Queen Elizabeth II.
After his meetings, Trump will fly north for a round of golf at his Turnberry resort in Scotland.
That won’t help him escape protesters who have scheduled demonstrations outside the golf course, as well as at George Square in Glasgow and near the US consulate in Edinburgh.
Trump, in an interview with Britain’s Sun newspaper, criticised London Mayor Sadiq Khan, saying he had not been “hospitable” to the US government. Khan approved the Trump baby balloon.
“I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London,” Trump said in an interview published Friday.
Khan, who has often been the target of Trump’s ire, backed the protests but said those who want to cause trouble are not welcome.
British police have been working overtime to handle the protests surrounding Trump’s visit and all leave has been cancelled.