'Baby Trump' blimp appears grounded for July 4 protest during president's DC celebration




 

WASHINGTON - The "Baby Trump" blimp is grounded - for now.

According to the activist group CODEPINK, which was going to fly the blimp, the National Park Service granted the group a permit on July 1 to fly the balloon, but only if the balloon were filled with air, not helium.

"The permit...does not allow the balloon to be filled with any helium, only air, and the permit is not in the location we requested - within line of sight of the Lincoln Memorial where President Trump will be speaking," wrote CODEPINK in a press release.

The group had originally planned to fly the blimp, one of several versions of an inflatable caricature of Trump dressed in a diaper and holding a cell phone, to protest the "militarization of July 4." Activists have used the blimp to protest the president at various events around the country and the world.

The group had raised nearly $15,000 to help cover the costs of the balloon on GoFundMe.

The group plans to bring the blimp along to the protest anyway.

Ariel Gold, the CODEPINK national co-director, said in an email, "We plan to fly the Baby Trump blimp, hopefully with helium, and if not with air."

Michael Litterst, the National Park Service Chief of Communications, told USA TODAY in an email that "The National Park Service has issued a permit to Tighe Barry to hold a First Amendment demonstration on the National Mall on July 4 that includes the inflation of a "Baby Trump" balloon. The permit spells out the specific conditions under which the event will take place to ensure public safety and the protection of park resources. We do not consider the content of the message presented as part of our First Amendment review process."

The National Park Service permit for the event, which was obtained by USA TODAY, says that "the balloon/inflatable must be filled with cold-air only and unable to achieve flight."

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More: Donald Trump to get tanks for his July 4 celebration in Washington

President Donald Trump plans to give a speech at the Lincoln Memorial on July 4 as part of celebrations that will include a military-themed parade and plane flyovers. The speech will even include several M1A1 Abrams tanks. Trump's critics argued that the president's planned celebrations might politicize D.C.'s holiday tradition.

In response, activists plan to protest the July 4 celebrations.

"Baby Trump is coming to DC this July 4! When Trump speaks at the Lincoln Memorial, let's show him what a big baby he is!" Code Pink wrote in a post about the protest.

The blimps have stirred controversy wherever they have been deployed to protest the president.

A woman popped one of the blimps in London at the beginning of June, during Trump's visit to the United Kingdom, shouting, "That's a disgrace. The president of the United States is the best president ever" as she stabbed the balloon.

In an interview with British tabloid The Sun last year, Trump said that the blimps made him feel "unwelcome."

"I used to love London as a city. I haven't been there in a long time. But when they make you feel unwelcome, why would I stay there?" Trump said. "I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London."

Two veterans groups also plan to protest the celebrations and hand out shirts depicting the USS John S. McCain. Trump had stirred controversy when news reports revealed that the Navy was asked to move the ship when Trump visited Japan last month.

Contributing: David Jackson, William Cummings

More: Like what you're reading? Download the USA TODAY app for more

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Baby Trump' blimp appears grounded for July 4 protest during president's DC celebration

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