Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Edinburgh and Glasgow on Saturday to protest against President Trump, who is spending the weekend in Scotland ahead of a meeting next week with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump played golf at his resort in Turnberry, Scotland, during his first official visit to the United Kingdom as president. He was greeted by protesters on a nearby beach chanting, “No Trump, no KKK, no racist USA.” Earlier, the BBC reported that police were investigating how a paraglider was able to fly close to Trump’s Turnberry resort with a banner that read, “Trump: Well below par.”
As the president was golfing, a crowd of about 10,000 was marching in Edinburgh, according to The Guardian. In Glasgow, The Associated Press reported that Scottish police estimated the crowd in the city’s George Square to be less than 1,600 people.
Jonathon Gillies, a 27-year-old bar worker from Glasgow, told The Associated Press that “nobody here is against Americans. They are welcome to come here anytime. It’s just Trump we have a problem with.”
The BBC reported that protest organizers wanted to speak out against “Trump’s politics of division and hatred.”
According to the BBC, Trump was greeted by Scottish Secretary of State David Mundell, who celebrated the “long and important relationship” between the United States and United Kingdom. “We have close cultural ties, a strong economic partnership, and the U.S. is one of our most important security allies. The president’s visit is an opportunity to strengthen those vital links. Mr. Trump is passionate about his Scottish heritage, and I hope he enjoys his visit to Scotland.”
NPR’s Alice Fordham reported from Glasgow that the protest there “was lively rather than enormous.” Some Scottish politicians have welcomed the president, Fordham said, but others, including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, criticize him often. “And, because of those golf courses, Trump has a long and pretty controversial history here,” she said.
Trump’s history with Scotland traces to his mother, who grew up on the Scottish Isle of Lewis in a village called Tong. Politico described her upbringing as impoverished and reported that she likely grew up in a “black house,” with soot-covered walls. She later immigrated to the U.S., where she met and married Trump’s father, the son of German immigrants.
The president owns two golf courses in Scotland, one in Aberdeenshire and his Turnberry resort in the southwest.
Even before his visit, his golf courses in Scotland had been the focus of controversy. In Aberdeenshire, Trump built his golf course on protected sand dunes, according to the BBC. Quartz reported that the course was built around the property of a man who refused to sell during its construction and who has been flying a Mexican flag in protest of Trump since 2016. Trump also tried to block an offshore wind farm in Scotland, according to Quartz.
Back in Glasgow, demonstrator Emily Bryce spoke with the AP while carrying a homemade banner written in Gaelic — in recognition of Trump’s Highland roots — which translated to read, “Donald Trump, son of the devil.”
“It’s a disgrace that [British Prime Minister] Theresa May has allowed Trump to visit the U.K. and to meet the queen,” 67-year-old Bryce said.
Fordham also spoke with comedian Janey Godley, a prominent Trump critic, who said many Scots admired the locals who demonstrated against Trump.
“He has that thing where ‘it’s me,’ ” said Godley, ” ‘It’s Donald. It’s the art of the deal. Throw money, your house is a tip, get it pulled down,’ and the people went … ‘nah, we’re Scottish. You can’t roll us over. We’re not going to do it.’ ” Godley said Scottish people have grit to them and do not care to be bullied.
Trump has a different take.
“I think that those people, they like me a lot, and they agree with me on immigration,” Trump said of the people in the United Kingdom earlier this week, adding, “I think that’s why you have Brexit in the first place, because of immigration.”
Scotland voted against leaving the European Union, and protesters say Trump has empowered racists in the U.K., Quartz reported, citing events such as a “White Pride” march in Edinburgh in March 2017 and a demonstration for a convicted criminal in London that included Nazi salutes.
Trump’s visit to Scotland follows a two-day working trip to England that included meetings with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II, during which an estimated tens of thousands of protesters marched in London.
After his visit to Scotland, Trump will travel to Helsinki for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.
Their meeting comes just after the Justice Department announced indictments against 12 Russian nationals as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, accusing them of a “sustained effort” to hack Democrats’ emails and computer networks.
The 12 defendants are members of the GRU, a Russian federation intelligence agency within the main intelligence directorate of the Russian military. The New York Times reported that the indictment “includes a litany of brazen Russian subterfuge operations meant to foment chaos in the months before Election Day.”
Saturday morning, Trump tweeted about the indictments. He said the “stories you heard about the 12 Russians” took place during the Obama administration, and asked, “Why didn’t they do something about it, especially when it was reported that President Obama was informed by the FBI in September, before the Election?”