A banner reading “Build bridges not walls” has been draped across London’s Tower Bridge as thousands of people all over Britain prepare to protest against Donald Trump’s inauguration as US President.
The Tower Bridge banner was unveiled soon after sunrise on Friday morning, by protesters who also held up pink letters saying “Act Now!” as a speedboat with a black flag reading “build bridges not walls” raced down the River Thames.
At Westminster Bridge, in the shadow of Parliament, protesters draped banners saying “Migrants welcome here” and “Migration is older than language”.
A total of ten bridges in the capital were the scene of protests which referenced Trump’s desire to build a wall with Mexico and his election opponent Hillary Clinton’s rejoinder that “We need to build bridges not walls”.
Other UK Cities also held their own Bridges Not Walls protests.
The actions were part of a global protest, with the Bridges Not Walls movement declaring: “Today we’re dropping banners off bridges around the world, pledging hope for the future and to take a stand against the rise of the far right.”
In Paris, against a backdrop of the Eiffel Tower, illuminated slogans appeared on bridges across the Seine.
The Bridges Not Walls movement also reached Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.
In a statement Nona Hurkmans of Bridges not Walls said: “On Trump’s inauguration day, we’re taking action to show our support for groups under attack – here in the UK, across Europe and in the USA – and to reject the rise of a dangerous and divisive far right politics.
“We won’t let the politics of hate peddled by the likes of Donald Trump take hold.”
Thousands more demonstrators later attended protests all over the UK which had been planned to coincide with Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony on Friday afternoon British time.
A series of #StandUpToTrump protests, backed by more than 50 MPs, were held at the American embassy in London as well as in the centres of Edinburgh, Cardiff, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.
In total, protests were expected in more than 20 British towns and cities, from Southampton to Glasgow.
As Trump gave his inaugural address, a crowd of about 300 protesters outside the American embassy in London waved “Not to racism, no to Trump” placards and chanted “Hey ho Donald Trump has got to go.”
Sabby Dhalu, joint secretary of Stand Up to Racism, the group organising the #StandUpToTrump protests, told the crowd: “Everything Martin Luther King stood for is being undone.”
In a statement issued via social media, Stand Up to Racism also said: “The election of Donald Trump as US president means the most powerful office on Earth belongs to someone who promised to build a giant wall along the Mexican border, the expulsion of 11 million “illegal” immigrants and “extreme vetting” for Muslims entering the country.
“He described Mexican immigrants as ‘criminals’ and ‘rapists’, and condoned the beating of a Black Lives Matter activist at one of his rallies.
“He has also chillingly sought to downplay the severity of sexual violence, dismissing boasts of sexually assaulting women as ‘locker room talk’.”
The group added: “The effects of a Trump presidency is set to be felt all over the world as racism, sexism, homophobia and bigotry is normalised through the voice of one of the most powerful and visible figures in the world, and progress on C02 emissions targets dashed as one of the world's largest emitters refuses to accept there is a problem.
“Activists in the US have called protests for the day of his inauguration – we stand in solidarity with them.”
Internationally, as well as large protests being expected in Washington DC, where the inauguration is taking place, demonstrations are expected in cities from Toronto to Sydney, Addis Ababa and Dublin.
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