Protests in Edinburgh as Donald Trump is sworn in as US president

Anti Donald Trump protesters gather at Waverley Gate. Picture: Greg Macvean
Anti Donald Trump protesters gather at Waverley Gate. Picture: Greg Macvean
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HUNDREDS of people took to the streets of the Capital for a protest timed to coincide with Donald Trump being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

As Mr Trump took the oath and vowed to stand up for “forgotten” Americans, protesters in Edinburgh called for an end to racism and for the 70-year-old president to be “swept” from the White House.

The protest, organised by Stand Up To Racism, saw people gather at Waverley Gate to hear from a number of speakers before heading along Regent Terrace and culminating at the US Consulate.

Campaigners carried placards bearing a variety of messages including “No to racism, no to Trump” and “Unite Against Hatred” in a show of solidarity against the new president’s inauguration.

Similar protests took place around the world as President Trump took the oath of office on the steps of the Capitol building just before 5pm British time.

In his first address as leader, President Trump spoke of putting “America first” and sought to hammer home populist political points against globalisation and the Washington elite.

Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States as Melania Trump looks on. Picture: AP

Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States as Melania Trump looks on. Picture: AP

Promising to “rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people”, he said: “From this day forward it is going to be only America first, America first.”

Around 1.8 million people turned out for President Barack Obama’s first inauguration on 2009 but it is thought only around 800,000 turned out in Washington DC to see his successor sworn in.

While Edinburgh’s protest maintained a peaceful atmosphere, the same could not be said for demonstrations in the streets of Washington DC.

There were also ugly scenes as anti-Trump protesters clashed with his supporters, with windows damaged by people carrying metal poles and hammers.

Police officers had to used hand-held water cannon and pepper spray to disperse the troublemakers.

Delivering his inaugural address, President Trump said: “Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families.

“We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.”

He added: “America will start winning again, winning like never before.”

His pronouncements were met with raised eyebrows by some in the UK, with prominent Labour backbencher Chris Bryant calling it “the most embarrassingly vacuous speech I have ever heard”, labelling it “cod nationalism”.

Hillary Clinton, who was defeated in a bitter presidential campaign that divided America, also attended the inauguration.

She appeared steely-eyed as she awaited Mr Trump’s arrival ahead of the ceremony, but tweeted: “I’m here today to honor our democracy & its enduring values. I will never stop believing in our country & its future.”

In Edinburgh, campaigners said they were standing in solidarity with the protests taking place in the United States and other cities in Europe.

Earlier in the day banners were unfurled over North Bridge ahead of the march, bearing slogans such as “Love trumps hate”, “Women rise up” and “There is no planet b”.

John and Elaine Miller, both 69, were among those who gathered in the Capital to join last night’s march.

It was the first time the couple, who live in Edinburgh, had ever been out on a protest and they came as part of the Protest in Harmony group.

Mr Miller said: “We are against racism in any form. We can’t believe Trump became president, a man who’s a bully, misogynistic and narcissistic.

“America is the strongest power in the world and therefore having someone like Donald Trump in charge of the strongest country in the world makes it a less safe place.”

Tina Conte, 26, came from Dundee where she is currently studying for a Masters to join the march in Edinburgh.

Originally from New York, she said it was important that people came together to have their voices heard.

She said: “I am here because I’m against the Trump presidency and I have been since his nomination. I’m terrified about the rise of global facism. I’m here because there’s very little I can do from abroad but the little I can I’m going to do.”

American Ben Spigel, who is from New England but now lives in Edinburgh, said he was at the protest to “show support for a sane world”.

The 33-year-old said: “I work in policy development and Trump is the end of everything I work for.” He said he was pleased with the turnout, adding: “It shows that people really care, not just Americans but people of all nationalities coming out really shows what people think.”

A further protest is expected to take place outside the US Consulate this morning.

A spokesman for Police Scotland said they would have a “suitable presence” to ensure everything went smoothly.