'Baby Trump' balloon slashed at Alabama appearance
A responding officer and an unidentified man stands by a Baby Trump balloon deflated by someone at Monnish Park as people were protesting President Donald Trump's visit to an NCAA college football game between Louisiana State and Alabama playing nearby in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. (Stephanie Taylor/The Tuscaloosa News via AP)
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- A towering "Baby Trump" protest balloon was knifed and deflated by someone unhappy with its appearance during U.S. President Donald Trump's Saturday trip to Alabama, organizers said.
The incident occurred during Trump's visit to watch the University of Alabama football game. The balloon, which is over 20 feet (6.1 metres) tall, was set up in a nearby park.
Jim Girvan, the organizer of a group that "adopts" out the Trump balloons for protests, said a man charged the balloon with a knife and cut an 8-foot-long (2.4-meter-long) gash in the back.
In a news release, Tuscaloosa police said 32-year-old Hoyt Deau Hutchinson was arrested and charged with first-degree criminal mischief.
The orange, diaper-clad, cellphone-clutching caricature of the president is often taken to Trump appearances as a way to protest him.
"Baby Trump" first rose over London when local activists brainstormed a way to troll Trump. Now several groups raise money to bring balloon replicas around the U.S.
Robert Kennedy, a volunteer "baby sitter" who brought the balloon to Tuscaloosa, said the balloon immediately began to sag after it was cut.
The day had been going mostly smoothly, Kennedy said. Some people yelled "Trump 2020" as they passed while others posed for selfies with the balloon. But then Kennedy said a man sidled up on the back of the balloon and attacked it with a knife. He ran away but was caught by police officers, Kennedy said.
Kennedy said he's accompanied "Baby Trump" to many appearances and never witnessed an attack on it, although someone did stab one of the balloons in London earlier this year.
"It is rare to get that kind of anger," Kennedy said.