LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - With colorful banners, loud chants and pots and pans banging, tens of thousands of people marched through central London to protest U.S. President Donald Trump’s stance on climate change, refugee policies, and treatment of women.
Organizers estimated more than 80,000 people demonstrated in London against Trump’s first official visit to Britain as president, and other protests were expected in major cities around the country.
“Trump represents everything I hate: racism, bigot, misogynist, xenophobe. As a mother of daughters I want to show that he can’t treat women like he does,” said Diana Yates, 67, as demonstrators cheered and drivers honked horns in support.
“It’s not just that he made comments about women, his policies have been so divisive. We want to make a stand but also unite as many people as we can,” Aisha Ali-Khan, an organizer of Women’s March London, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Supporters carried placards saying “Dump Trump” and “Our rights are not up for grabs and neither are we”, while others sang “Trump’s going home, Trump’s going home, he’s going!” in reference to a popular English football song.
Earlier, activists floated a six-meter-high blimp outside parliament depicting the U.S. president as snarling, nappy-wearing orange baby.
Britain regards its close ties with the United States, which it calls the special relationship, as a keystone of foreign policy and Prime Minister Theresa May has courted Trump ahead of a projected departure from the European Union.
But some Britons see Trump as crude, volatile, unreliable and opposed to their values on a range of issues.
“It’s important to protest because Mr Trump has wrong opinions and it’s not right the way he treats women. It’s unfair and it’s not equal,” said 10-year-old Beatrice Carrell, who came to protest with her mother Jilly and older sister Scarlett.
Friday’s rally follows what many see as a pivotal year for women’s rights, with the rise of the #MeToo and #TimesUp social media campaigns against sexual harassment and misconduct.
The movements sprang up after a string of scandals involving powerful men in Hollywood, Washington and elsewhere.
Some 5 million women around the world staged demonstrations on Jan. 21 last year, the day after Trump’s inauguration, many wearing pink “pussy hats” in reference to the president’s boast about grabbing women’s genitals.
In that same year, Trump also vowed to pull the U.S. out of a global climate pact, which campaigners, U.S. businesses and the country’s allies have denounced.
The 2015 Paris deal committed nations to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and keeping the global hike in temperatures “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F) above pre-industrial times.
“Donald Trump comes in and tries to slam the brakes on it ... in complete disregard for all the people around the world who are already suffering the effects of climate change,” said Claire James from the Campaign Against Climate Change.
“We want to be at the protest to say that you cannot withdraw from responsibility in that way and still have the red carpet rolled out for you,” said James, who helped to organize a march to protest Trump’s climate policies.
Several demonstrators also opposed Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigrants, seeking to prosecute all adults who cross the border illegally from Mexico into the United States.
More than 2,300 children were separated from their parents after the policy began in May, but it was stopped last month following public outrage and court challenges.
“I’m here to give the voice to women who can’t be here today, for the women in Texas who are imprisoned and separated from their children,” said Scarlett Carrell, 12.
“It’s why we’re here today: it’s because all women should have their say in everything,” she said.
Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Claire Cozens; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, gender equality, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories