A suspect was taken into custody Saturday after he allegedly stabbed a “Baby Trump” protest balloon on display near the University of Alabama, where President Trump was attending the Crimson Tide’s football game against LSU.
Hoyt Hutchinson, 32, was charged with felony first-degree criminal mischief, according to the Tuscaloosa News. The paper reported that Hutchinson posted a Facebook Live video saying he planned to deflate the balloon depicting Trump as a crying baby wearing a diaper and holding a cell phone.
“I’m going down here to make a scene, so y’all watch the news,” he said in the video. “This is pathetic. I’m fixing to get rowdy.”
Later, Hutchinson launched a crowdsourcing page to raise money for legal fees and restitution, AL.com reported.
“Hoyt made sure our beloved president didn’t have to see this disrespectful balloon on the streets of Ttown today!!,” a message on the page read. As of early Sunday, it showed more than $13,000 had been pledged, surpassing a goal of $6,000.
“Hoyt made sure our beloved president didn’t have to see this disrespectful balloon on the streets of Ttown today!!”
“Good on you,” wrote a donor who pledged $20. “I am sick of these nasty social maggots getting away with offensive behavior. That balloon offends me!”
“Antifa can all but KILL a conservative reporter – a HUMAN BEING – nothing is done. No arrest,” another donor wrote. “This young man deflates an OFFENSIVE BALLOON & is arrested. I think we are a little lopsided with justice.”
Jim Girvan, organizer of a group that “adopts” out Baby Trump balloons for protests, told the Associated Press a man charged the balloon with a knife and cut an 8-foot-long gash in the back.
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.
Donors contributed $7,882 to bring the inflatable roughly a mile from Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium for the Alabama-LSU game. The rental cost $4,500 and any donations above that went to the Equal Justice Initiative. The balloon was surrounded by about a dozen anti-Trump protesters.
“I’m shaking, I’m so mad right now,” Hutchinson said. “I’m fixing to pop this balloon, without a doubt. Stay tuned, this should be interesting.”
Hutchinson’s bond was set at $2,500.
Robert Kennedy, a volunteer “baby sitter” 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. He ran away but was caught by police officers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.