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“Dump Trump”: tens of thousands across the UK protest Trump’s visit

The orange “Trump baby” balloon finally took off in London on Friday.

British protests
Protesters against the UK visit of US President Donald Trump gather in Trafalgar Square on July 13, 2018.
Madeleine Ngo covers economic policy for Vox. She previously worked at the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

President Donald Trump is visiting the UK right now, and thousands of British protesters have taken to the streets to make it blatantly clear they’re not happy about it.

Even before Trump landed in London on Thursday, protesters across the UK had started to gather. Local police expected more than 100,000 protesters to take to the streets upon Trump’s arrival, according to the New York Times.

On Friday, Trump held a press conference with UK Prime Minister Theresa May to talk about the future of US-UK trade relations and Brexit. Just hours before the meeting, the British tabloid the Sun published a scathing interview with Trump, where he criticized May over her soft stance on Brexit. Also on Friday, the US president managed to fit in tea with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.

Even though Trump largely avoided London and has been using a presidential helicopter to travel to his meetings, protesters were undeterred. They gathered in places like Trafalgar Square in London and Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire carrying colorful posters and signs saying “Dump Trump,” and referring to him as the “World’s #1 Racist.”

Matt Cardy/Getty Images

There was also a balloon resembling an angry baby Trump wearing a diaper, which activists flew over Parliament Square in London on Friday. London Mayor Sadiq Khan originally barred the balloon from flying over the city, but he eventually allowed it after an online petition garnered more than 10,000 signatures.

Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

“[Trump] mocks and insults anyone who doesn’t support him,” Adam Cottrell, an activist involved with the balloon protest, told the New York Times. “So now he can see what it feels like.”

Earlier this week, protesters also started a campaign to get people in the UK to buy and stream the 2004 Green Day song “American Idiot,” so that when Trump landed, the song would be at the top of the music charts. As of Friday, it ranks No. 1 on Amazon UK’s bestseller list, and is No. 2 on the UK’s official music charts.

Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Trump’s visit to the UK has been a long time in coming. In January 2017, May visited the White House and invited Trump to Britain for a state visit. But that prompted backlash from British citizens who disagreed with Trump’s policies.

The British don’t like Trump for a number of reasons, including his contentious travel ban that affects several Muslim-majority countries and for retweeting anti-Muslim videos from a British far-right political group.

After a bombing in London that left at least 22 people injured last September, Trump used the attack to defend his travel ban in a string of tweets. Rather than an expression of condolence, Trump tweeted, “Loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner.” And later, he wrote, “The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific.” His comments angered British leaders at the time.

On Thursday, Amnesty International activists unfurled a banner on Vauxhall Bridge in London that reads “Human Rights Nightmare,” with Trump’s face plastered on the sign.

Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Trump protesters plan to continue their demonstrations through this weekend, and activists plan to march from the US Embassy in London to Whitehall on Saturday.

The president is also expected to depart the UK on Sunday evening to travel to Helsinki, Finland, to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The summit with Putin will be Trump’s third official meeting in Europe and will conclude his trip.

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