England trumps Bonfire Night 2016 as 36 feet high effigy of Donald Trump is set alight

KENT, England - Hoots, whistles and loud cheering filled the air in the village of Edenbridge, Kent on Saturday as thousands of people gathered to participate in England’s annual Guy Fawkes ...

• Guy Fawkes Night is an annual event that witnesses bonfires, fireworks and protest marches

• Bonfire Night featured a 36 feet high Donald Trump effigy that went up in flames on Saturday

• Thousands of protesters gathered in the central part of the city for the annual ‘Million Mask March’

KENT, England - Hoots, whistles and loud cheering filled the air in the village of Edenbridge, Kent on Saturday as thousands of people gathered to participate in England’s annual Guy Fawkes Night. The reason for their amusement: Donald Trump, being set on fire.

Standing 36 feet high, this version of Trump was the only element of bright colour, against the black, starless sky. 

In a rather macabre tone, fireworks started going off behind the effigy, eventually setting it alight, only to burn in dismay, even as the crowds, almost screamed in delight as they watched fireworks wreck his effigy.

Each year, the Guy Fawkes Night in England draws of hundreds and thousands of people who participate in protest marches or come to watch the bonfires and dramatic fireworks. 

Some reports stated that there were more such effigies watching to be set alight in another English town, Lewes. 

According to the Edenbridge Bonfire Society, that has been notorious for burning celebrity effigies for over 20 years now, Trump managed to overwhelmingly beat other contenders like disgraced England manager Sam Allardyce who quit as England soccer manager in September, following a newspaper sting and after being in charge of just one game, former owner of failed retail chain BHS, Sir Philip Green who has been under pressure to resolve the firm’s pension problems, X-Factor's Honey G and controversial Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

The effigy was created by a local artist, Frank Shepherd, the society revealed stating that Shepherd believed that Americans were actually ‘quite pleased’ about the event’s main feature this year, rather than being offended by it. 

Jeni Fox of the Edenbridge Bonfire Society said, “We were spoilt for choice in terms of potential contenders with a shortlist of around 10 potential runners but the people's choice stole the vote. We are literally helping Trump to live out his own catchphrase 'burn it down' by exploding the 11metre effigy as the opening act for our fireworks display. It only seemed fair that Hillary Clinton took some of the limelight, and we are sure the presidential candidates will be pleased to see they are both featured.”

The steel-framed effigy, showing trump wearing Mexico-themed boxer shorts, holding the head of his rival Hillary Clinton, was said to have been stuffed with oil-soaked newspapers and fireworks and was torched by amused residents. 

Last year, in light of the FIFA corruption scandal - the society burnt an effigy of Sepp Blatter. Previously, the group has burnt effigies of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, his wife Cherie Blair, deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, glamour model Katie Price, former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, comedian Russell Brand and disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, the town of Lewes, 60 miles south of London, had also prepared to burn an effigy of Trump, sitting atop of a Mexican border control wall. 

Historic day, historic event

The story of why the Guy Fawkes Night is marked each year on November 5 is as interesting as the things that happen at the event. 

History has it that Guy Fawkes Night dates back to the year 1605, when a group of Catholics managed to foil a plot to kill King James I, a Protestant. 

The plan apparently was to blow up the Houses of Parliament during its state opening.

An explosives expert, Fawkes was found below the building with 36 barrels of gunpowder. He was said to have been sent to the Tower of London, where he was tortured and eventually died. 

Since then, on the night of November 5, an effigy representing Fawkes is burned on bonfires in different parts of the country to mark the events of the historical incident.  

Million Mask March

Another main part of this event each year is the annual ‘Million Mask March’ that is held on the same evening as the Guy Fawkes Night.

Traditionally, protesters sport a Fawkes mask featuring a goateed figure with a moustache, large eyebrows and an upturned smile.

The organisers had warned participants on their Facebook page this year, “Keep an eye out for your comrades and police tactics that will limit movement. The hive mind should stay vigilant.”

The warning came in light of incidents that took place at the same protest march in 2015, leading to several violent confrontations and as many as 50 arrests. 

This year, to avoid any untoward incident, the Metropolitan police commander B.J. Harrington had imposed many tighter restrictions - with the main one being a three-hour time limit on the march. 

Before the event this year, Harrington said that in 2015, “We saw participants causing criminal damage to public property, smashing the windows of businesses and attacking police officers all whilst harassing and intimidating families as they visited theaters, dined out or shopped in the West End. As we look ahead to this weekend, my message is simple: If you want to protest peacefully, that is your right and we want to work with you. If you commit criminal acts — that is not peaceful protest — and you are liable to be arrested."

The protest began in Trafalgar Square and hundreds of masked protesters marched to the parliament chanting, "Whose streets? Our streets" and "One solution, revolution."

However, the police could not avoid confrontations even this year and by late evening, as many as 53 arrests, in connection with the march, were reportedly made.

According to the Scotland Yard, three people were held for the possession of an offensive weapon, 14 for possession of drugs and two for the non-removal of a face mask. 

Further, arrests were also made after some members of the crowd set off fireworks near the Houses of Parliament and hurled bottles at the building. 

Alongside the march this year - a worldwide protest event was organised by the hacktivist collective Anonymous U.K. and protests were planned across New York, Los Angeles, Edinburgh and Brussels.

Anonymous U.K. said in a statement, “We have seen the pushes to make the Internet yet another part of the surveillance state. We have seen the government's disregard for migrants, for the poor, the elderly and the disabled. We have seen the capital, profit and greed of the few put before the well-being of the many and we say enough is enough.”


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