A blimp in the likeness of Sadiq Khan flew over Parliament Square on Saturday morning in protest against rising crime levels in London.
Yanny Bruere, who organised the stunt, told talkRADIO: “I crowdfunded to fly a blimp of Sadiq Khan and today we’ve done it, I think it’s gone to plan. There was a long process to get there, it’s gone well, it’s been a nice crowd.”
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He said that he’d wanted to have victims of crime speaking at the event, but was denied permission by Greater London Authority (GLA) to have a stage.
“What we’re looking to do is make London safe again and give victims of crime a platform and really highlight the crime in London at the moment. It’s a serious issue,” Bruere, 28, said.
'Possibly do another event'
Yanny Bruere. Image: talkRADIO
“Today we had about 12 to 15 speakers lined up, but we were denied a stage, and it’s not quite fair on people who’ve been victims of crime to talk about their experience through a loud hailer. So what we’re looking to do is possibly do another event but also give them a platform further down the line.”
He said he didn’t have a preferred candidate for a new mayor but wanted someone “who tackles crime”.
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“First and foremost, Sadiq Khan’s approach to crime in London is very weak,” he said. “Stopping the stop and search has had disastrous consequences so we need to stop with the political correctness and make London safe again.”
In April, told the BBC: “When stop-and-search is used properly, it's an invaluable tool to the police, and we want more targeted, intelligence-led stop and search…
“I want police officers to be confident they’ve got the tools in their toolkit to stop and search someone they have reasonable suspicion is about to commit a criminal offence or suspect is about to commit a criminal offence.”
Protester Lee. Image: talkRADIO
Protest attendee Lee, from east London, said he thought the blimp was “amusing”.
“He’s [Khan] an embarrassment to this city,” he said.
“He’s alright with other people coming in that shouldn’t be in the country but he’s all up in arms about Trump.
“That aside, what matters most is the amount of crime that’s been going on. A lot of black gangs going back and forth stabbing each other, warfare, stabbing each other, chucking acid over people, snatching phones from people on mopeds.”
He also claimed Khan “stopped stop and search because of political correctness”.
“Weren’t they saying you’re picking on black people? I think it’s time to chuck political correctness in the garbage where it belongs,” he said.
Statistics from the Ministry of Justice show that members of the black community are eight times more likely to be stopped and searched, but the success rate (where the outcome of the stop of search was that a prohibited item was found) was 23%.
'A front for the far right'
The protest was labelled a "front for the far right" by tech journalist Mike Butcher on Twitter.
He said that crime levels in London were down to underfunding of police. The Institute of Fiscal Studies calculated that police budgets fell by 14% between 2010-11 and 2014-15.
The number of officers in England and Wales has also fallen from just over 140,000 in 2009 to around 120,000 in 2016.
Bruere denied being linked to any political groups, writing on Twitter: "I have zero links to any ‘right wing’ groups. No political affiliations. No donors. No political degree."
Inflatable makers 'not involved in the politics'
Mark Shears of ABC Inflatables. Image: talkRADIO
Mark Shears, from ABC Inflatables, the company that made the balloon, also attended the protest, and said he “didn’t get involved in the politics”.
“I don’t get involved with the politics side of things because we’re only the balloon makers,” he said.
“Not being Londoners ourselves, it rather goes over our heads in the provinces.”
Khan responded to the balloon earlier in the week, saying: “"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 colour though.”