London, UK – While British Prime Minister Theresa May gave Donald Trump a “red carpet welcome”, hundreds of thousands of people greeted the US president’s visit in the UK with a “Carnival of Resistance”.
Some 250,000 people on Friday descended onto the streets of the British capital to express their opposition to Trump’s four-day trip to Britain, according to Stop Trump, the group organising the protest.
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The demonstrators marched through central London, chanting slogans and waving banners such as “Traitor hater would be dictator”.
“God save the Queen from an orange tangerine,” read another.
Trixie Monks, an ex-Navy servicewoman from the US state of Tennessee, was among the crowd. She said she moved to the UK as soon as Trump got elected US president in late 2016.
“We got out of America … and the last thing we want is for him to start intruding on our lives here when we finally got some peace,” she told Al Jazeera.
Condemning Trump’s record as president, Monks, singled out his recent “zero tolerance” immigration policy which saw children being torn from their parents at the US southern border and locked up in cages.
“He has just been absolutely terrible in trying to reunite the world,” added the 39-year-old. “He keeps attacking our allies and then going up to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and giving him everything he wants.”
May criticism ‘backtracking’
As protesters started gathering in London, May met Trump at her official country residence at Chequers and reiterated how special the relationship between the two historical allies is.
Her comments came despite Trump telling The Sun newspaper shortly before arriving in London that May’s plan about Britain’s departure from Britain, or Brexit, would kill any future trade agreement between the US and the UK.
After his meeting with May on Friday, however, Trump seemed to row back on his fiery comments, declaring that a deal would be “absolutely possible”.
Commenting on the apparent backtracking, Monks, the protester, said she was not surprised.
“You can’t trust anything he says he’s going to do; he is going to do anything he wants and it’s not good for the United States or any other country.”
‘Trampling on basic fundamental rights’
People of all ages and different backgrounds met at Portland Place at 2pm local time (17:00 GMT).
From there, they made their way towards Trafalgar Square for a mass rally featuring politicians including Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour opposition party, and David Lammy, a Labour member of parliament.
Protesters accused Trump of creating a culture of racism, intolerance and misogyny via policies targeting minority groups.
During his time in office, the US president has also overseen the partial institutionalisation of an executive order which will effectively restrict travel for people from several Muslim-majority countries to the US.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) July 13, 2018
In a video posted on Twitter, Corbyn described the Trump administration’s policies as “putting the lives and wellbeing of millions of people at risk”.
He also criticised May for her “red carpet welcome” despite Trump “repeatedly trampling on the most basic fundamental human rights that all of us hold dear”.
Tom Ager, 29 and from Bournemouth, told Al Jazeera he took part in the protest because Trump “banned people from specific countries based on their nationalities and that is definitely, explicitly racist”.
Laura Williams, 29 and an officer at Global Justice Manchester, said she was travelling from the northern English city to London for the protest because she was “shocked” May decided to invite Trump, “despite the obvious public opposition”.
She told Al Jazeera there are so many reasons why people “reject” the Republican leader, including his “misogyny, hostility towards migrants and climate change denial, to name a few.
“And why is she inviting him here? Because she wants us to sign a trade deal with Trump that will lower the standards of our food, healthcare and workers rights.
“We need to stand up against this and make sure that May knows that this isn’t the direction that we want to go in.”