LONDON – It has been 53 years since Pam Jones felt moved to attend a protest. The retired small businesswoman from Leatherhead in Surrey last went on an antinuclear demonstration as a teenager.
But the arrival of Trump in Britain prompted her to pick up a placard again.
Standing in Trafalgar Square with a sign saying, “Wanna grab this pussy Donny?” she said she is furious. “He drives me insane,” she told BuzzFeed News. “I just wish he’d go.”
Crowds on a scale not seen in years filled the streets of central London, marching to Trafalgar Square for a rally to express the nation’s anger at Trump’s presidency – and his invitation to Britain.
As with the Iraq war demonstrations in 2003, the protests united people from a range of ages and backgrounds.
As people waited outside the BBC building for the march to begin, chants of “Say it now, say it clear, Donald Trump’s not welcome here” bellowed out. The crowd quickly became so big that organisers said they had been told by police to start the march early to avoid a crush.
Russell, 47, from Leeds, got on a coach at 8am to be in London in time for the afternoon rally. He said it was worth it “to show Trump he’s not welcome and to tell Theresa May it was a mistake to invite him”.
Karen Kaur was in Trafalgar Square dressed in a Handmaid’s Tale costume. She said: “If we don’t start making our voices heard now it might be too late. It might not force him to listen, but at least our government will hear how we feel about it all.”
The 26-year-old actor said she wanted to counter “the hate that’s been breeding [in Britain] since the election”. She added: “It’s important for people to see how loving and accepting we can be. I think people want to feel together again and united.”
Kaur, who has been going on protests since 2010, said this felt like a different crowd. “When I spoke to people travelling in this morning they said this is the first time they’ve protested because they feel angry."
Reverend Kate Bottley, a vicar known in the UK for appearing on the Channel 4 show Gogglebox, said this was the first political march she had been on since childhood. “This is my first march since I was a little girl marching against pit closures. There’s a few clergy here – and grannies, and people with pushchairs. That really speaks to me. It’s nice that he’s brought us together.
“It’s about his policies, the separation of children. He professes to support Christian values. I don’t know what Bible he’s reading, but it’s not the same as mine."
Commenting on how peaceful the protest was, she said: “It all feels very British; vicars with signs about tea.”
Rey Kumar, 14, skipped school to attend the mass protest. She told BuzzFeed News: “Trump is an absolute moron. I think he’s ruining politics. There’s an elegance and formality to politics that he doesn’t have. He tweets things that are idiotic.”
Kumar moved to London with her parents from Delhi when she was 4. She now has British citizenship and is in year 9 at Douay Martyrs school in Ickenham, west London.
She says she has been going to anti-Trump and anti-government protests since the most recent general election. "His hostility towards refugees and immigration in general annoys me most,” she said. “Migrants aren’t stealing jobs, they’re the backbone of every country.”
Her mother, Madhu Smita Kumar, said she was happy her daughter had missed school for the protest. “I’m very proud of her. She’s very politically minded so I encourage her to do what she feels like to make a difference in the world.”
Leila Jones, 41, was pushing her sleeping sons Jethro, 4, and Jago, 1, along the march. “He’s the representative of creeping fascism. It’s all very well to mock his man-baby ego and his tiny hands, but he represents something really sinister that’s happening all over the world and we all have to mobilise and fight it. I’m also here in solidarity for the separated families. It makes me really feel angry."
Emily Dugan is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Emily Dugan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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