The morning before former President Donald Trump was officially charged, protesters gathered in a small park near Manhattan’s Civic Center.
The protesters assembled a gathering at Collect Pond Park, a tiny public space nearby Manhattan Criminal Court, where Donald Trump is expected to be tried on criminal charges for hush money payments at 2.15 p.m. today. The protest was organized by the New York City Young Republicans Club.
Only hours before the ex-hearing, president’s the conservative group also asked Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene to speak in favor of the indicted former president.
Around 8am, the park was largely empty, save for a handful of early protesters.
Gregory Williams, from the Bronx, sat on a lawn chair he set up on the sidewalk, waiting for the days events to begin. He told Metro.co.uk that he was there early to celebrate.
Williams brought along a large cardboard cut-out poster of Hillary Clinton, as well as a homemade sign that read ‘Lock Him Up.’
‘I think it’s ironic that for eight years, they always said “lock her up.” Now, I get to say “lock him up.”‘
Perez, a Trump supporter from Bushwick, Brooklyn, told Metro.co.uk that he hoped the former president would be found innocent on all charges and called the arraignment ‘political BS.’
‘It never happened before, in United States history, that a former president got indicted,’ he said.
Perez also said he was hopeful that the court proceedings would help Trump win the Republican primary and eventually the presidential election in 2024.
Nearby, another man wearing a red MAGA hat ripped off his shirt to reveal he was wearing a full set of stars-and-stripes overalls. ‘This is an unjust prosecution!’ he yelled as news cameras flocked to his location. ‘We should throw [District Attorney] Alvin Bragg in Guantanamo Bay!’
The event also attracted large numbers of counter-protesters, many of whom were wearing black-and-white shirts with messages like ‘Witches know this isn’t a witch hunt’ and Trump is the definition of depravity.’
Two women, who identified themselves just as Olivia and Beth, came from Indianapolis to witness the historic event. ‘It is really important to show that nobody is above the law,’ the women said.
One man on the counter-protester side, who said his name was David, spoke in English and Spanish about Trump’s mishandling of the Hurricane Maria disaster.
‘Nobody should have to go through what the people of Puerto Rico went through, and continue to go through to this day,’ he said. He also brought a roll of paper towels, a reference to the viral moment in 2017 when Trump tossed goods to survivors in a crowd.
NYPD officers split the park into two halves for each side, but protesters from both sides still managed to confront one another.
Around 9am, two women unfurled a large banner reading ‘TRUMP LIES ALL THE TIME’ on the pro-Trump side. Moments later, a blonde woman wearing a red MAGA hat leaped onto the banner and began tearing it up.
‘I don’t care b***h I’m from New York!’ she yelled in the counter-protesters’ faces.
Around 9.30am, right-wing New York congressman George Santos made a brief surprise appearance at the protest.
The recently-elected Republican has been the target of criticism since it was revealed he embellished or lied about large portions of his resume, including his career and identity.
Rep Santos was quickly harried by the press, and left moments later.
Eventually, Rep Greene arrived around 10.30am for her scheduled talk. She was given a megaphone by protest organizers, but her words were completely inaudible as counter-protesters in the crowd drowned chanted and banged on pots and pans.
‘We’re the party that wants to protect the lives of the unborn, we’re the party of male and female, two genders only,’ she told the few supporters who could hear her.
Meanwhile, counter-protesters chanted ‘go back home’ to the congresswoman from Milledgeville, Georgia. Others yelled ‘talk about gun reform!’