London, United Kingdom –Thousands of Londoners assembled to protest against US President Donald Trump as he met with British government ministers at Downing Street on Tuesday.
The protesters marched from Trafalgar Square down Whitehall, where they were addressed by, among others, the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn.
The protesters’ complaints ranged from Trump’s alleged racism and sexism to his climate change denial and immigration policies, his support for Israel and Brexit and the prospect of a UK-US trade deal watering down UK food standards.
Hannah Stiver, who is from the US but in the United Kingdom on a partner visa, was one of many who said that Trump was a misogynist, citing his “nasty woman” comment about Hillary Clinton and an incident where he said Fox News host Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever”.
Protesters also criticised Trump’s denial of climate change.
‘Dear Mr Trump’
Karis Mcintyre, a 14-year old from the UK Student Climate Network, told the crowd: “I’m here because Trump is a climate-denier. By denying [the science] exists, he’s denying us the right to have a future. I’m here because I’m scared and you should be too. Scared for your future, scared for your childrens’ future and scared for the future of all living things.”
She continued: “Dear Mr Trump. You say that you want to make America great again. You say you love your people but, in your country, people are losing their homes and lives already because of the ongoing affects of the climate crisis – rising sea levels, uncontrollable wildfires and extreme weather events.”
Rachel Nicholls is from the US but now lives in Oxford. She had printed a sign with the names and ages of six children who she said had died in US custody in the past year after being taken from their parents as they crossed the US-Mexican border. She said they had not been given the medical attention they needed.
One name was Darlyn Cristabel Cordova-Valle, a ten-year-old girl from El Salvador who died in Nebraska in September 2018. She had been trying to re-unite with her mother in the US but was detained at the border and taken to a hospital in Nebraska where she died from fever and respiratory disease.
‘Bringing community together’
Trafalgar Square is a popular spot for tourists. One, Monseca Coronado is a Mexican-American who chanced upon the protest but said she supported it.
|Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan reports from the protests in London|
“Trump is racist with my people, Mexicans, so I really like this protest,” she said.
“It’s bringing all the community together from different races, getting together and acknowledging what’s going on and that they don’t want that in [the UK]. It’s very respectful and I honour that a lot.”
Food standards were also an issue at the demonstration and several protesters had dressed up as chlorinated chickens.
Chlorine-washed chicken has become a symbol of the US food standards than many in the UK fear will be imposed on them as a condition of any post-Brexit UK-US trade deal.
Cal Roscoe was representing anti-Brexit campaign Best for Britain. “We’re worried about lower safety standards from chlorinated chicken and other products from America. Food standards in the EU are very different from those in America and we don’t want people to have to eat lower quality food.”
Elsewhere across the UK, protests went ahead in Birmingham, Stoke, Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Chester, Leicester, Oxford and Exeter.
Last night, Donald Trump tweeted: “Tremendous crowds of well-wishers and people that love our country. Haven’t seen any protests yet but I’m sure the Fake News is working hard to find them.” In a press conference with Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday afternoon, he again referred to reports of protests as “fake news”.
Around a dozen Trump supporters had gathered for a counter-protest outside a pub near Trafalgar Square. They shouted “we love Trump” and “urgh, smelly” at the passing protesters, while protected by police.