The convoy's flightpath terminated on the north-west corner of Regent's Park — specifically, the lawn of Winfield House, the residence of the US Ambassador to Britain. A majestic 35-room mansion taking up 12 acres of prime central London real estate — including the second largest private garden in the capital after Buckingham Palace's — it was gifted to Washington by Whitehall in the 1950s, for the token sum of US$1.
It's uncertain how much UK taxpayers will ultimately spend on policing for Trump's 'working visit', but it will undoubtedly be far in excess of a mere dollar — US$6.6 million (£5 million) has been given to police in Scotland alone to ensure security arrangements are optimal for the President's visit on the third day of his stay, almost as much as was spent on the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William.
I think this kind of sums up the Trump visit. Angry, frustrated people giving the finger to a retreating helicopter. pic.twitter.com/vKp259byRh— SimonNRicketts (@SimonNRicketts) July 12, 2018
No expense can be spared, because authorities can't take any chances. Voluminous demonstrations are planned across the country for the duration of Trump's stay, necessitating the bussing in of around 4,000 additional officers and resources to areas the President will visit, the largest mobilization since the England-wide riots in 2011.
Bring the Noise
One such boycott was already very much in operation when Trump reached London, and very close to his home — a 'noise protest', aimed at keeping the President awake all night, convened near Winfield House around lunchtime.
#TrumpUKVisit: Trump Protests Planned for 12 July 2018.— Intelligence Fusion (@IntellFusion) July 12, 2018
— Protests outside #BlenheimPalace & US Ambassador's Residence in #London
— Majority of protests planned tomorrow under hashtags #StopTrump & #TogetherAgainstTrump pic.twitter.com/4Wk4UYWyrM
A Facebook page advertising the event instructed attendees to "bring pots, drums and vuvuzelas", a directive many participants followed — although whether their collective brouhaha reached the President's ears upon his arrival is debatable, given authorities had already erected a literal ring of steel around the grounds by the time they arrived, keeping protesters at least out of sight, if not out of mind.
"It speaks volumes when a supposed leader of the people needs to be protected from the people by huge walls and endless police. It's a complete waste of public money — we should've told him to provide his own security or not bother coming," he tells Sputnik.
Still, undeterred by the cordon sanitaire, Sam and his associates are committed to "making as much noise" as they can.
"We're here today ahead of the huge protest tomorrow to make clear Trump and his politics of sexism, racism, homophobia and division aren't welcome here, and call on our own government to stand up to him and his unacceptable policies. Our leaders must take a much firmer stance on his government's actions all over the world," Sam explains.
He tells Sputnik he settled on his slogan after struggling for some time to choose just one, based on the "million" grievances he has with the US leader.
"He should've been prosecuted for his attempts to intimidate Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail. If he behaved like that on the London Underground, it'd be grounds for arrest. Instead, he went on to become the most powerful man in the world, at the expense of the poor and the weak, like many other demagogues before him. His treatment of immigrants, particularly Muslims, has been absolutely shameful — yet because the UK is in a weak position due to Brexit, Theresa May is sucking up to him," Roger despairs.
Fittingly, among the throng are a number of Muslims, some of whom walked over from the adjacent London Central Mosque to attend. The vast Islamic cultural center represents another stridently incongruous aspect of Trump's immediate location — it's unclear whether he'll be woken by the next morning's call to prayer, if indeed he sleeps at all overnight.
Whatever the truth of the matter, two protesters dressed in hijabs are particularly angry — not just at the President, but also the numerous photographers who keep attempting to snap them. They eventually opt to shield their faces with placards bearing the slogan 'No to Trump, No to War'.
"He's a businessman, he doesn't care about anything but money. There are big problems in my neighborhood right now because of the Saudis and he is not doing anything. He's their friend not ours, because he doesn't like Muslims and they are not real Muslims. What they are doing is Haram. They are the ones damaging the world. We want peace, but because of him we are not safe," one, who asks not to be named, tells Sputnik.
They represent the Communist Party of Iran Marxist-Leninist-Maoist — not to be confused with the Communist Party of Iran, the Communist Party of Persia, or the Worker-Communist Party of Iran.
"There are many people in Iran fighting for a socialist republic. The ruling theocracy is not the only version of Iran. It's wrong to see the conflict between Tehran and Trump in binary terms. There's a hierarchy of oppression…Trump is a fascist. There is no easy solution, but if the Iranian people do not stand up and fight for change, it will come from outside the country. We fight for regime change, but not through imperialist intervention," ‘Rosa' (a pseudonym) tells Sputnik.
Festive atmosphere full of noisemakers and chants at protests outside Winfield House, the US Ambassador’s residence in London. pic.twitter.com/BTCqEIW6cc— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) July 12, 2018
Amazingly, over the amorphous din, a lone voice can somehow be heard shouting support for the President — it belongs to a suited and booted 17-year-old politics student, a US native who's resided in the UK for five years. He's disgusted with the protesters, given Brexit so closely impends — as Britain will soon have to forge trade deals with other countries, "the last person you should be gunning for is Trump, your strongest ally".
"To call people who support what he advocates — strong borders and fiscal responsibility and so forth — racists, as the left constantly do, is ridiculous. I'm not an activist, but the media needs to know the world doesn't hate Trump. People are afraid to admit they support him because of media lies — that's why pundits got the election so wrong. Younger generations coming up really like him, realise globalists want open borders and uncontrolled immigration. Who are all the people coming in going to vote for? Democrats, Labour, left-wingers. We saw in the 1970s what socialism did to the Western world, and we don't want that to happen again. Thatcher equals Trump equals what needs to be done," he tells Sputnik, ironically refusing to identify himself.
As the youngster walks off — he believes his presence is no longer necessary, as the President "has the situation under control" — an anti-Trump objector stood nearby handing out badges and banners barks "Are you a comedy act? Can we book you?" after him, eliciting guffaws from their comrades.
As 6:30pm nears, the cacophony reaches a crescendo, in recognition of the fact Trump is rumored to be in his White House bed by that time every day. However, their efforts are quickly stifled by a din of the President's own making — a fleet of familiar helicopters taking off, ferrying him to Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire for a gala black tie dinner, where he'll meet Prime Minister Theresa May.
Still, despite his hasty departure, the protest shows no sign of abating, but takes on a more tuneful, positive character, with poetry readings and songs played on a variety of instruments. While there's talk of greeting the returning Trump with recordings of screaming children caged in US immigration centers at maximum volume, officials refuse to confirm when that'll be — although it's likely many hours away.
The views and opinions expressed by the contributors do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.