Thetford hosts anti-Trump protest

Demonstration against US President Donald Trump making a state visit to the UK
Demonstration against US President Donald Trump making a state visit to the UK
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Protesters in Thetford have shown their objection to US President Donald Trump making a state visit to the UK.

The new president is a controversial figure and his executive order halting refugee admissions and temporarily banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries has sparked international outrage.

Protestor Toby Stokes

Protestor Toby Stokes

On Saturday, around 30 people staged a peaceful anti-Trump protest in front of the town’s Thomas Paine statue where, for two hours, placards bearing slogans like ‘no state visit for Trump’, ‘build bridges not walls’, ‘Trump is not welcome’ and ‘migrants and refugees welcome here’ were on display for all to see.

Organiser Glenn Williams said Paine’s connection to the American constitution made staging the protest at the King’s Street statue an ‘obvious choice’.

“It’s just a natural focus for a demo about somebody who’s riding roughshod over the American constitution,” said Mr Williams who believes Trump is an ‘unstable man, a sexist and a racist’.

For him, though, Saturday was about objecting to giving the president ‘the honour of a state visit’.

Organiser Glenn Williams

Organiser Glenn Williams

While recognising the hypocrisy in denying Trump that which other world leaders with dire human rights records have had, he said America was one the UK’s biggest allies and allowing Trump to visit would be seen as ‘endorsing him and his views’.

Labour councillors, the Mayor of Thetford and two people from Amnesty International were among those to turn up on Saturday.

Three pro-Trump supporters also showed up to share their views.

Toby Stokes, 26, decided to take part after seeing an ‘overwhelmingly positive’ response to Trump in an online Thetford forum.

Peaceful demonstration at the Thomas Paine statue in King's Street, Thetford

Peaceful demonstration at the Thomas Paine statue in King's Street, Thetford

He said the president was ‘under-qualified for the job’ and seemed ‘horribly incompetent and regressive’.

Mr Stokes does not think Trump ‘deserves’ a state visit, but for him Saturday was about speaking out against his travel ban.

“The idea that if we ignore the far right they go away isn’t correct, they grow,” he said, adding that one ‘foreign’ family whispered ‘thank you’ as they passed him.

“It was just nice for people affected by Trump’s rhetoric to know there were people who didn’t feel that way and they weren’t alone in a hostile town,” he said.

Protesters Theresa Mason and Francesca Robinson

Protesters Theresa Mason and Francesca Robinson

Mr Williams added: “I have no doubt if Trump does come we’ll see the biggest demonstration we have seen in this country, ever. The fact a demo was held in sleepy Thetford, and I was told one hasn’t been held since the 60s, shows the strength of feeling.”