The “Baby Trump” balloon that flew over London during Trump’s U.K. visit earlier this year turned up at a Florida rally to mark the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, WPTV (West Palm Beach) is reporting.
On Saturday, an unknown number of protesters marked the anniversary of the devastating hurricane, and in particular its effects on Puerto Rico, with at a rally in southeastern Florida. Attendees at first drove their cars in circles around Donald Trump’s nearby Mar-a-Lago resort, waving Puerto Rican flags and honking their horns (Donald Trump was not there at the time). From there, they drove to a nearby park for a rally, where they were greeted by the balloon.
The rally was intended to highlight the Trump administration’s failures in its response to Hurricane Maria. The devastating storm knocked out power to the entire island, and some places were without electricity for months afterwards.
Following the storm, reports emerged of several failures from federal responders, including reports that bottled water intended for the victims sat on an airport runway, unused and undistributed. Donald Trump, for his part, famously turned up on the island and, in an action widely viewed as tone-deaf, tossed paper towels at victims.
#Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria was nothing short of a betrayal of the people of Puerto Rico, 3,000 of whom died.— Stefan Simanowitz (@StefSimanowitz) September 19, 2018
Tmw, to mark the 1st anniversary of the disaster, @amnesty's @kuminaidoo will be there with a message & he won't be bringing any paper towels. @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/0ppp8Zo99p
Trump has also disputed the death toll from the hurricane. By some accounts, the death toll is near 3,000; Trump has claimed it was less than a couple dozen.
Considering the strong feelings the administration’s response to Maria has generated, perhaps it should come as no surprise that the famous “Baby Trump” balloon turned up at the event.
The balloon first appeared in London earlier this year as Trump made his visit to the United Kingdom. After a crowdfunding effort to raise money for the device, it famously flew over massive anti-Trump protests in the England capitol. Trump, for his part, largely stayed away from London during his visit.
As of this writing, at least six such balloons are known to exist. It is not clear if the one that made it to West Palm Beach is the same one that flew over London.
Besides drawing attention to the Trump administration’s response to Maria, the rally was also intended to energize support for the island, which had been suffering economically even before the hurricane.
Democratic Florida gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum, in a surprise appearance at the rally, told the crowd that supporting Puerto Rico is the right thing for Americans to do.
“I want to remind this country to do right by the people of this country.”