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Blimp of London Mayor Sadiq Khan flies above UK capital

A giant blimp of London Mayor Sadiq Khan hovered Saturday above Westminster in a ...

Posted: Sep 2, 2018 9:26 AM
Updated: Sep 2, 2018 9:26 AM

A giant blimp of London Mayor Sadiq Khan hovered Saturday above Westminster in a crowdfunded protest against his record on tackling violent crime in the UK capital.

A small crowd of supporters and members of the media gathered to see the giant balloon -- which depicts the mayor reclining in a small yellow bikini -- as it was flown for two hours, the Press Association news agency reported.

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Some called "higher, higher, higher" as the blimp rose into the sky, the agency said.

More than 3,000 people have donated more than 59,000 pounds ($76,500) to fund the 29-foot balloon.

Protest organizer Yanny Bruere, who describes himself as a British free speech advocate, said he had set up the crowdfunding campaign in response to London authorities' decision to allow a "Trump Baby" blimp to be flown during a visit to Britain in July by President Donald Trump.

He said the Parliament Square event would mark "the fightback for free speech in our country."

"Under Sadiq Khan, we have seen crime sky rocket to unprecedented levels. People in London don't feel safe and they aren't safe. ... Khan Out," he wrote on his crowdfunding page.

London has seen a spike in knife crime over the past three years, but the capital's Metropolitan Police Service insists it is still a safe city. Khan published a new knife crime strategy in June and promised to do everything possible to drive knife crime from London. The mayor has also called for the government to halt planned funding cuts to the Metropolitan Police.

The blimp's swimwear is a reference to a controversial weight-loss advertisement banned from the Transport for London network by Khan in 2016 that depicted a woman in a yellow bikini with the slogan "Are you beach body ready?"

Bruere said any surplus funds would be used "for a continuing campaign to remove Sadiq Khan from office" and to defend free speech.

Speaking to broadcaster ITV London on Thursday, Khan said: "If people want to spend their Saturday looking at me in a yellow bikini, they're welcome to do so -- I don't really think yellow's my color though."

The request to fly the "Trump Baby" blimp in July was approved by city authorities and the mayor after more than 10,000 people signed a petition.

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