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Man ordered into diversion for popping ‘Baby Trump’ balloon

The Associated Press

Tuscaloosa, Ala. – An Alabama man arrested for slashing a towering protest balloon depicting President Donald Trump as a baby was ordered to attend counseling and complete community service for a chance at getting the charges dismissed.

This undated photo provided by the Tuscaloosa Police Department shows Hoyt Hutchinson.

If Hoyt Hutchinson, 32, finishes the Tuscaloosa County District Attorney’s diversion program without any other infractions, the case and charges against him could be removed from his record, WIAT-TV reported on Thursday. Hutchinson will also be required to pay $3,500 to the group that rents out the inflatable for the damages, the news outlet said.

Hutchinson is accused of deflating the diaper-clad “Baby Trump” during a University of Alabama football game the President attended in November. The 20-foot-tall (6-meter-tall) inflatable, commonly used as a protest symbol, was set up in a nearby park.

Hutchinson told a radio show about a week later that he yelled at the protesters when he first spotted the balloon, but later bought a University of Alabama shirt to blend into the crowd, got close to the balloon and sliced an 8-foot-long (2.4-meter-long) gash in it while pretending to take a picture. Hutchinson described his actions as a matter of “good versus evil.”

Hutchinson was charged with first-degree criminal mischief, Tuscaloosa police have said.

In this Nov. 9, 2019 file photo, a responding officer and an unidentified man stands by a Baby Trump balloon that was deflated as people were protesting President Donald Trump's visit to an NCAA college football game  in Tuscaloosa, Ala.