The so-called “Baby Trump” blimp, which depicts Donald Trump as a crying baby in a diaper, and which has appeared at anti-Trump protests here and there, most notably in London, won’t be making an appearance at Trump’s 4th of July “Salute To America,” Yahoo News reports.
The activist group CODEPINK, which owns one of an unknown number of iterations of the balloon, says that the National Park Service, which has jurisdiction over many of Washington’s more famous public spaces, such as the Mall, denied two key aspects of the organization’s permit request to fly the balloon.
First, the Park Service wouldn’t let the users fill the balloon with helium but only with air. Since a balloon needs to be filled with a gas that is lighter than air in order for it to fly, that essentially grounds the balloon, literally and figuratively. The reason for that denial does not appear to have been made public, but considering the fact that the security at this event is likely to be ultra-tight, it stands to reason that the Park Service wouldn’t want any airborne objects flying about. In fact, the National Park Service doesn’t generally allow balloons at all, and all of Washington will be under a no-fly zone during the event.
Second, the Park Service was prepared to offer a permit, just not “within line of sight of the Lincoln Memorial where President Trump will be speaking,” according to a press release from the group.
The Hill reports that the blimp will instead be inflated, just with air and kept on the ground, for public display near the Washington Monument.
— The Hill (@thehill) July 3, 2019
In a statement, CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin said that it’s “ironic” that the government is grounding his balloon.
“It is ironic that it is right here, in the ‘land of the free,’ the balloon is being grounded.”
However, Michael Litterst, the National Park Service Chief of Communications, said that denial had nothing to do with the content of CODEPINK’s message.
“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,” he said.
Trump’s planned 4th of July “Salute To America” has been strongly criticized for its cost, for the presence of military tanks on city streets, and for accusations that Trump is making it all about him. The White House insists, however, that the event is simply intended to honor America and is not intended to be a campaign rally for Trump.