Donald Trump protest groups swell as baby blimp team ‘confident’ it will fly
Thousands of people have joined Facebook event groups planning demonstrations against the US president’s upcoming state visit.
The team behind a huge Donald Trump baby blimp is “confident” of being granted permission to fly the effigy again during the US president’s upcoming state visit.
The phone-wielding, nappy-wearing inflatable could return to London on Tuesday as thousands plan to march in protest against the visit.
Mr Trump will spend three days in the UK on a trip that includes lunch with the Queen at Buckingham Palace and meetings with Prime Minister Theresa May.
The blimp made its first appearance in July last year during his previous working visit, which also sparked mass protests.
Organisers have applied for permission to fly the blimp at Parliament Square on Tuesday and the Greater London Authority has confirmed it is reviewing the request.
It is understood the decision will be made jointly with the Metropolitan Police.
But the blimp, part of the Stop Trump coalition group, will only be unleashed if a fundraising page for charities “pushing back against the politics of hate and division” hits £30,000.
At lunch time on Thursday, 532 people had donated a total of £16,695.
Organiser Kevin Smith said: “We will only fly the baby if we hit the target.
“I don’t think it’s a done deal but we will definitely be pushing it over the coming days.”
Mr Trump’s schedule for Tuesday includes a business breakfast at St James’s Palace with Mrs May and senior business leaders from the US and UK.
He will then visit Downing Street, before hosting a dinner at the residence of the US ambassador when he will be joined by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.
Mr Smith added: “We’re in the process of applying for permission at the moment and that’s a mixture of talking to the police and the Greater London Authority, and we’re applying for essentially the same permit as what we had last time.”
The blimp is currently stored in a “suitcase in Kentish Town” and organisers are “presuming” permission will be given, Mr Smith said.
A spokesman for the Greater London Authority said a decision will be made in “due course”.
Meanwhile, Facebook event pages promoting separate protest marches have drawn interest from tens of thousands of people.
The listing for one event, co-ordinated by 16 groups and individuals including Momentum and the Stop the War Coalition, said: “Donald Trump is coming to Britain for a state visit. Let’s show him what we think of his divisive, hateful policies.”
The event, which has 7,400 people listed as attending and a further 33,000 as interested, says the march will begin in Trafalgar Square at 11am on Tuesday to “declare a Trump-free zone” before “marching to wherever he is”.
The event description says: “We will be taking to the streets opposing Trump’s racism, themed areas will feature throughout the protest with climate justice, migrants’ rights, anti-racism, women’s rights, LGBT rights, anti-war and trade union rights, and many more.”
Regional demonstrations across the UK are also planned, including in Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Belfast.
Mr Trump’s visit last year drew tens of thousands of demonstrators to the streets and roughly 10,000 police officers were deployed.
This year’s protest props will also include a 16ft talking robot of Mr Trump sitting on a gold toilet.
Amnesty International, the human rights organisation, has said it will unfurl five giant banners at Vauxhall Bridge, facing the US embassy, on Monday morning.
The 20-metre-long banners will spread a “resist message” and will say “Resist sexism”, “Resist racism”, “Resist hate”, “Resist cruelty” and “Resist Trump”, the group said.