A massive security operation today came into force in central London as protesters said up to 250,000 demonstrators will take to the streets to “disrupt” President Trump’s vist.
Scotland Yard placed streets surrounding Buckingham Palace and Downing Street in “lockdown” with around 10,000 police officers deployed in the capital in a £25 million operation.
Hundreds of uniformed officers were in position this morning, while several roads in the centre including The Mall were closed to traffic for two days.
Workers have put huge numbers of metal security barriers in place, preventing the usual crowd of tourists from gathering in front of the Queen’s London home.
Activists were expected to assemble outside Buckingham Palace this afternoon before the Queen hosts a state banquet for Mr Trump – with protesters vowing to do all they can to “disrupt” the occasion.
An eight foot ring of steel has also been erected around the US Ambassador’s residence Winfield House, near Regent’s Park, where Mr Trump is staying during the visit.
The main demonstration against the President is scheduled for tomorrow when as many as 250,000 protesters – including a raft of senior Labour MPs – are due to march through from Trafalgar Square to Downing Street.
“We want him to know he’s not welcome. We also want the UK government to appreciate that, not only is a state visit for a hate monger like Trump totally inappropriate, but that when it comes to Trumpism in our own country there is a movement of people ready to fight back.
The protest will feature a return of the giant 20ft inflatable nappy-wearing Donald Trump baby blimp, which has been given the go-ahead by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Civil Aviation Authority to fly over Parliament Square for two hours from 9am tomorrow.
A 16ft talking robot of Mr Trump sitting on a gold toilet is also expected to make an appearance.
Labour shadow ministers Dawn Butler, Emily Thornberry and Diane Abbott are expected to be among those who turn out for the protests.
“We would like this to be the biggest demonstration in British history,” said Shabbir Lakha, organiser of the Stand Up to Trump coalition, which is supported by bodies including Unite, the National Union of Teachers and the Campaign Against Climate Change.
“We want to show our opposition visibly and vocally, giving people an opportunity to come out and show their dissent.”
Scotland Yard said it had asked for re-inforcements from other police forces around the UK for help in policing the three day visit.
Around 250,000 anti-Trump activists gathered when Mr Trump flew into the UK on 13 July 2018 for his first visit as US president.
Mr Lakha added the plan was to fill Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and Embankment, “effectively surrounding” the areas where Mr Trump would be visiting.
“We are going to be assembling in Trafalgar Square and will march down Whitehall, with a rally at the Monument to the Women of World War II next to the Cenotaph, which should be at the same time Donald Trump is in Downing Street,” he said.
Co-ordinated groups will arrive from around the UK’s cities, including Bristol, Newcastle, Durham, and York, as well as the West Midlands and Wales.
Scotland Yard said it had “a very experienced command team” leading the operation as the force geared up to deal with the visit itself and expected protests.
A spokesman said: “This is a multi-faceted security operation, and whilst the Met has a responsibility to ensure the right to peaceful protest, this needs to be balanced with the complex requirements of this policing plan.”
Security has also been tightened for the UK’s national commemorations of the 75th D-Day anniversary, which will be attended by international figures including the Queen and Mr Trump.
This morning a protester who gave his name as Rudy, 39, said he had flown over from his home in Germnay to “pop my middle finger” at the president.
He said: “I’m actually old enough to remember when being against fascists was considered a good thing.”
One US tourist, Lauren Hammond, 32, from Nashville, who was visiting Buckingham Palace as part of a trip around Europe with her family, said: “We’re supporters of our president, we’re glad to see him here with the Queen. I think he’s very honest, brutally honest.”
Source: Evening Standard