TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — A towering “Baby Trump” protest balloon was knifed and deflated by someone unhappy with its appearance during 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 meters) 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 Hoyt Deau Hutchinson, 32, was arrested and charged with first-degree criminal mischief.
According to WIAT, a GoFundMe was set up shortly after Hutchinson’s arrest to help pay for his legal fees. Sunday night the GoFundMe had raised $34,360, which is well over the original $6,000 goal. The page is managed by Hutchinson and said all proceeds not needed for legal fees would be donated to Trump’s re-election campaign, according to WIAT.
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. The suspect ran away but was caught by police officers, Kennedy said.
It is unclear whether Hutchinson has an attorney who could comment.
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.