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Labour, Greens, peace activists and Atwood-style handmaids among rally against state visit.

They came with smiles on their faces and the customary homemade placards weaponising pithy soundbites.

“Get your tiny hands off our NHS,” “Free Melania” and one, in the hands of an American man with a disability, referring to Donald Trump’s infamous imitation of a journalist with arthrogryposis: “Mock me to my face.”

But there were also chills, not least when a formation of women in the red uniforms of handmaids from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale walked slowly past the National Gallery with their heads bowed.

On this occasion, though not the first time that the forces of anti-Trumpism had massed together to send a message of rejection to the US president, Trafalgar Square had been (very) loosely divided into different zones or, in the parlance of street protest, “blocs”.

To the west of Nelson’s Column, outside South Africa House, there was the climate bloc. Yards to their south was the peace and anti-war bloc. Others distributed around Trafalgar Square included the student bloc, abortion rights women’s bloc, a Jewish bloc and the Palestine bloc.

Others – from the snappily titled “no war on Venezuela – join the protest against trump’s visit” bloc to the “Brexit=Trump. March against both” group – seemed keen to ally their own cause with protesting against the state visit afforded to the US president.

In the shadow of the Canadian high commission, meanwhile, the men, women and certifiably safe-to-eat fowl of the chlorinated chicken bloc massed.

The blocs were gathering on day two of the state visit, before a march which was due to take tens of thousands within shouting distance of Downing Street en route to Parliament Square for speeches.

Amber McNew, a visiting US student from the Republican state of Wyoming and a newcomer to such events, professed to be “blown away” by what she and her friend Alex Pelletier felt compelled to join. “I feel quite emotional about it, to be honest,” said the student. Read more

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