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Trump as chicken: Artist’s protest brings a giant inflatable to D.C.

This image from video, shows a inflatable chicken on the Ellipse, just south of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. The giant inflatable chicken bearing the unmistakable hairstyle of the commander in chief transfixed tourists and television cameras in the nation’s capital. (AP Photo)
Associated Press
This image from a video shows an inflatable chicken on the Ellipse near the White House — with the hairstyle of the commander in chief.

NEW YORK — As political protest stunts go, this one was hard to miss.

A giant inflatable chicken appeared outside the White House on Wednesday morning. Onlookers who saw the 10- by-30-foot bird with the golden coif on the Ellipse, a park directly south of the White House, had no trouble identifying its human doppelganger: President Trump.

The chicken was the brainchild of Taran Singh Brar, an artist and documentary filmmaker who lives in Laredo, Calif.

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He said by phone Thursday that it took four months of planning and lots of stress before he could get permits from the National Park Service to bring his plan to fruition. But it was so worth it, he said.

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Brar, 31, told USA Today that he wanted to make a statement about the president being a “weak and ineffective leader.”

He added, “He’s too afraid to release his tax returns, too afraid to stand up to Vladimir Putin, and playing chicken with North Korea.”

An e-mail seeking comment from the White House was not immediately returned Thursday.

Brar is not the first to unfurl an eye-popping symbol of political discontent aimed at Trump. Last year, an anarchist group called INDECLINE displayed orange nude life-size statues of the presidential candidate in several US cities, including in a park in New York.

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Trump wasn’t there to see the chicken in person. He was away on an extended working vacation at his property in Bedminster, N.J., where a chicken probably falls low on a list of concerns currently topped by rising nuclear tensions with North Korea.

But Brar said he knew that the president, with his ardent use of Twitter, was likely to get wind of the protest through social media.

Brar said he had the idea in March to haul the chicken to the Ellipse. It took three trips to the District of Columbia to get the permit, he said. “I just kept calling, kept showing up in person and kept e-mailing,” he said.

He learned there was a height limit for any structure to be erected where he wanted to place the chicken: 25 feet. But because his project was seen as an exercise in free speech, he said, “I got a waiver for the First Amendment.”

The images of the chicken were designed by the Seattle artist Casey Latiolais, according to Brar. Those images were sent to China and turned into a cold-air water balloon that Brar purchased and shipped to D.C. He took the balloon — along with four ropes and four sandbags totaling 600 pounds — to the site near the White House in a U-Haul truck.

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He said he did most of the work, though he had help from a few volunteers. He studied camera angles to plant the chicken in just the right spot so the White House was in the foreground and the Washington Monument in the rear. His aim: “To go viral.”

Then he inflated the chicken. Time: 30 to 45 minutes. “It was a very strenuous day out there yesterday,” he said.

When the rooster stood tall, tourists could see its golden brows furrowed in anger. Its bright red wattle echoed the president’s favorite color of necktie. The chicken had golden legs.

But why, pray tell, a chicken? And especially one that comes with a name, Chicken Don or Donny, and a Twitter account, @TaxMarchChicken?

“Images speak a thousand words, and the daily fire hose of lies from Trump is pretty deflating, like Chicken Don right now,” Brar said in video on the CGTN website.

By Wednesday evening, Brar had deflated the giant chicken with a power vacuum (time: 30 minutes). But not before tourists had gawked and taken many photos of his bird.

“The image lives on,” he said.

This was not the rooster’s first “rodeo”: It appeared as a mascot in tax marches in US cities in April, during which people protested Trump’s refusal to release his full tax returns. (Brar said he organized Tax March Chicago.)