Dozens of groups and thousands of individuals will try to make US president’s visit uncomfortable
US President Donald Trump walks from Air Force One as he returns from Bedminster, New Jersey, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, US, July 8, 2018.
London: The organisers of anti-Donald Trump protests have promised a “carnival of resistance” that will begin as soon as the US president lands in the UK on Thursday.
While major protests have been prepared for London, the organisers said preparations had taken on “a life of their own” and would be carried out by dozens of groups and thousands of individuals across the country.
Protests will start as Trump arrives from Brussels with pockets of protesters co-ordinating around the country to ensure that while the president may avoid the largest gatherings in the capital, they will not escape his notice.
Trump is expected to be at the US ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park, London, overnight and at 5.30pm on Thursday protesters plan to greet him with a “wall of sound”. More demonstrations are planned for Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, later in the evening, when Trump and his wife, Melania, will be guests of honour at a dinner for 100 guests.
A website, Top Trump Targets, has been set up, encouraging people to donate to groups “he has sought to exclude or marginalise”.
The Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy, who set up the site with Sophie Livingstone, said it was an attempt to bring something positive from a highly divisive event. “There will be a lot of people on Friday who just want to be angry, but imagine if the legacy of this Trump visit was a massive funding boost to all the organisations he hates,” she said. “Standing with these organisations is probably the best thing we can do.”
On Friday morning, a six-metre “angry Trump baby” balloon will fly over Westminster from Parliament Square after the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, gave permission for it, before mass marches begin at midday.
Women’s March London – which brought 100,000 people to the streets of the capital in 2017 – will assemble at 11am outside the BBC offices in Portland Place before leaving at 12.30pm to move along Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus and Whitehall, culminating in a rally at Parliament Square.
For the Bring the Noise rally, organisers are encouraging marchers to take “pots and pans out of the kitchen … and on to the streets, banging to show our disapproval and claiming our political voice in public space”.
“The Women’s March is led by women but it is not just about women, we will have every voice in society represented,” said Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, its London co-organiser. “The Trump-Pence administration has overseen a massive regression in women’s rights, and it is not enough to say this is happening somewhere else, this is not our business. We have to stand up.”
The march’s youngest protester is likely to be the Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson’s two-week-old baby, Gabriel, while the eldest may be an 86-year-old member of the Moving Memory Theat-re Company, who will teach protesters how to do a haka, while marchers will be entertained by opera singers from Opera Resistance.
A second London demonstration led by Stop Trump – which includes members of the TUC, Stop the War and Friends of the Earth – will also start outside the BBC’s headquarters at 2pm, ending at 5pm in Trafalgar Square, where organisers hope “very large numbers” – in the tens of thousands – will attend.
Shaista Aziz, one of the organisers of the London march, denied there was any division between the different protesting groups, despite calls from some that the marches be united. Aziz said the Women’s March would start the day and the protest would continue.
“I think protesters have learnt from the past that people have to be able to protest and mobilise however they wish – whatever people are doing it is still part of the same mass movement.”
Aziz said that while the march was incited by Trump’s visit, its message was wider. “We are protesting against Trump, but we are also protesting against the politics of discrimination, bigotry and hate. People are making the connection – this is not just happening in the States, but across the EU and the UK.”
There will also be demonstrations on Friday evening in Glasgow and on Saturday in Edinburgh at noon.