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Protesters Hit London Streets, With a Giant Trump Balloon in Tow

LONDON — Unleashing the giant Trump baby balloon once again, Britons protesting President Trump’s state visit vowed to bring central London to a standstill on Tuesday, holding demonstrations that they hoped would draw large crowds throughout the day.

But lagging numbers in the early hours seemed to indicate that the passions that drove hundreds of thousands into the streets for Mr. Trump’s first visit in July may have cooled somewhat.

But not, perhaps, among those who did show up.

“Stop Racism, Stop Trump,” one placard read.

“Climate change is real, your tan is not,” read another.

Many wore caps that mocked the president’s campaign slogan: “Make America Great Again. Impeach Me.”

Ruby Lawson, a reflexologist, expressed disgust that her country would put on such a lavish affair for a figure as unpopular as Mr. Trump.

“It is so embarrassing that our government has invited this fascist buffoon back to our country and is giving him the royal treatment, pulling out the red carpet and wining and dining him with our tax money,” she said. “We want to show the world and Trump that this is not O.K., and Trump is not welcome.”

The balloon, which made its debut during Mr. Trump’s last visit, depicts him as a scowling baby wearing a diaper and holding a smartphone. The 20-foot-tall balloon has since become a familiar rallying symbol for similar protests.

“Trump has repeatedly shown that he doesn’t respond to reason, to facts or to science. What he does respond to is humiliation,” Anna Vickerstaff, one of the organizers of the Trump blimp, wrote in an op-ed in The Independent on Monday. “Our balloon is part of a proud history of political satire in the U.K. that sends a clear, orange message to Trump and his politics of hate that they are not welcome here.”

There is no shortage of Trumpian detractors in Britain: An online petition opposing his state visit received 1,863,708 signatures; John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, will not allow him to address Parliament; and a recent YouGov poll found that 67 percent of respondents had a negative opinion of him, compared to 21 percent reporting approval.

In response to the planned protests during his last visit, Mr. Trump largely avoided London. But this year, Queen Elizabeth II has welcomed the president for an official state visit, which includes ceremonies, government meetings and a banquet traditionally hosted at Buckingham Palace in London.

The main protest set for Tuesday, named Together Against Trump, began assembling Tuesday morning at Trafalgar Square in London. Demonstrators plan to march toward the prime minister’s residence, at 10 Downing Street, where the president is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Theresa May and hold a news conference.

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, said earlier that he would be speaking at the main protest on Tuesday.

“Tomorrow’s protest against Donald Trump’s state visit is an opportunity to stand in solidarity with those he’s attacked in America, around the world and in our own country,” he said Monday on Twitter.

In the post, Mr. Corbyn alluded to a series of tweets sent that day by Mr. Trump that took aim at London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, calling him a “stone cold loser” and comparing him to Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, whom he called “dumb and incompetent.”

Buses have been organized to ferry protesters from at least 15 other British cities. Some demonstrators have threatened to throw milkshakes at the president as part of a recent trend in protesting right-wing politicians.

It is unlikely that the protesters will be able to get close enough to throw anything at Mr. Trump: He has opted to travel by helicopter during his visit, and the British police have set up barriers in front of all the venues he will be attending.

“Protesters will not be marching past Downing Street at any point,” according to a statement issued by the Metropolitan Police of London. “This is a multifaceted security operation, and whilst the Met has a responsibility to ensure the right to peaceful protest, this needs to be balanced with the complex requirements of this policing plan.”

Organizers of the demonstrations said the main themes of the protest would be Mr. Trump’s “divisive and hateful politics,” climate change, migrants’ rights, women’s rights, L.G.B.T. rights and union rights.

“Donald Trump is an open racist and sexist, a volatile and dangerous character who seems set on taking the West into further wars,” said Maz Saleem, an activist and member of the Stand Up to Trump protest group. “Together we will put on a massive united show of opposition to him.”

Smaller protests were organized outside Buckingham Palace to coincide with the state banquet on Monday, and another demonstration has been organized for Wednesday in the southern city of Portsmouth, where Mr. Trump will attend events commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Source: NYT > World

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