Reporting from the London protest opposing Donald Trump’s current visit to the UK, Lush Times writer Katie Dancey-Downs shares the voices and concerns of some of the activists and campaign groups who joined the demonstration
US President Donald Trump has long promised to visit the UK, and this week he did. Today, an estimated 250,000 people turned out in London to protest his arrival. As news helicopters roared overhead, the crowd danced to samba bands and chanted slogans like “Dump Trump!” in what was described as the Carnival of Resistance. The likes of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, and Green Party Co-leader Caroline Lucas were some of the speakers who addressed the crowd.
Among the protesters, were campaign groups and activists passionate about a whole range of diverse issues. They chanted for the rights of animals, women, refugees, and the Planet. They marched too against climate change denial, and nuclear weapons.
“Choose love” placards were brandished by supporters of the charity Help Refugees, while others read, “Trans rights are human rights” and “Build bridges, not walls.”
Taking to the stage before the march set off, Sarah, a spokesperson from campaign group Women of Colour talked about the impact and trauma of threats to women all across the world. She then went on to say: “He called Haiti a s***hole. How dare he! Haiti is beloved.”
Another group demonstrating was The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which had a stall set out in Trafalgar Square, where the march ended. The group’s general secretary, Kate Hudson, says she was motivated to join the demonstration, because of the Trump administration’s nuclear weapons policy. One particular area of concern for her, she told me, is how Trump might influence the UK’s defence policies.
“Britain is a sovereign country, it can’t be told what to do by President Trump. I don’t support Mrs May, but she should be running this country, not Donald Trump. She’s got to end the so-called special relationship,” she said.
Kate believes that so many people turned out to protest because of a collective concern over so many of Trump’s individual policies.
She says, “Although President Trump runs America, America is a global power.”
This means, for Kate, her concern goes beyond any single issue. She explains: “He symbolises, for me, the rise of the far right. I don’t know when, if ever, there’s been a president in the White House in the camp of the far right, and that is so dangerous. We all have to unite and fight against it.”
Prominent activist Janie Mac, who campaigns about many issues including rights for refugees, says she too was at the demonstration in solidarity with those impacted by right-wing policies. And that following the day-long demonstration on Friday, she hopes people will carry on being politically active.
“We need to carry on opposing fascism in all its forms. To take to the streets when our own government swings to the right, in line with the USA. To stand up to the nationalists who advocate that hate speech is free speech. To stamp out sexism, racism, patriarchy and bigotry. Mutual aid and unity is where it's at,” she says.
For Anna Vickerstaff, a climate activist from London, the issue of climate change brought her out onto the streets of London for the protest. She says this is categorically the biggest issue facing the Planet today.
“Donald Trump is one of the most powerful men in the world, and his politics, which are seeping into the wider world, are devastating for the Planet. The people who are here today stand in solidarity with the American people of course, but they also stand against the politics that Donald Trump represents,” she says.
Demonstrations like the one in London yesterday bring a sense of momentum and urgency, Anna says, but political action should not end here.
She adds: “There are so many reasons to be here at the march today, and you can see that from the diversity of people here; the things written on their placards, and the different issues and concerns they represent.”
She encourages people to find an issue that they are passionate about, and to get organised.