Trump visit: Portsmouth protesters say they won’t back down in demo against US president

DEFIANT demonstrators have refused to curtail their protests against Donald Trump’s invite to the D-Day 75 commemorations dispute pleas from Normandy veterans.

By Tom Cotterill
Friday, 26th April 2019, 6:55 pm
Updated Friday, 26th April 2019, 7:03 pm
Donald Trump Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Activists from Stand Up to Racism in Portsmouth have vowed to plough on with their rallies against the president’s attendance at the spectacle on Southsea Common in June.

It comes after surviving D-Day veterans from across the Portsmouth area asked organisers of the protests to cancel them, fearing it would take away from the situation.

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Donald Trump Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

But Simon Magorian, organiser of the city’s Stand Up to Racism branch, has refused to back down. 

He said: ‘Donald Trump is turning these D-Day commemorations, which are supposed to honour the sacrifices made by those in the fight against fascism, into a circus.

‘He has turned the event from “D-Day” into “Donald Day” and we won’t stand for that.

‘He is not here to respect the sacrifices of the armed forces - he has a terrible track record of that - he is here for a photo opportunity, pure and simple.’

Hundreds of people are expected to make a stand against the president when he comes to Portsmouth on June 5 to take part in the ceremony at the common.

President Trump’s attendance has already prompted Portsmouth City Council to make plans for a double-layered steel fence inner security cordon on the common near Clarence Pier – with another fence stretching around the perimeter of the common.

Council officials also said there would be a separate area for protesters on the common.

But this has left veterans worried.

Normandy invasion hero, John Jenkins, of Eastern Road, Milton, hoped the protesters would axe their rallies.

The 99-year-old D-Day Story volunteer told The News: ‘These protesters will all protest against anything but on that particular day, especially with D-Day, they want to forget all that and just remember if we didn’t fight the people that were there they wouldn’t be here doing their protests.’

Mr Magorian, whose parents both served during the Second World War, said he was still planning exactly how his group would protest. 

He aimed to stage the group’s rally away from Southsea Common and vowed that whatever they did would be done so with the ‘utmost respect’ to veterans.

However, he couldn’t rule out whether other groups would stage their protests on the common and in front of the D-Day survivors.

‘Whatever we do will be mindful of the sacrifice of the people who fought in the fight against fascism,’ Mr Magorian added. ‘We’re not protesting at the veterans or at those wishing to attend - just at the fact Donald Trump has been invited.’

The Queen is expected to be among the guests of honour in attendance alongside president Trump.

Heads of state of the 14 nations involved in D-Day, as well as the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have also been invited.

Around 4,000 armed forces personnel are to salute veterans across the national event.