What New Yorkers think about Trump’s arraignment in the city

Al Jazeera speaks to New Yorkers as the former US president returns to his hometown to appear in court.

new Yorkers
[Dorian Geiger/Al Jazeera]

New York City, United States – As New York City braced itself for the arraignment of former US President Donald Trump on Tuesday, the world’s eyes were focused on Manhattan.

Hundreds of onlookers, police officers, protesters, tourists, reporters and rush-hour New Yorkers collided outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in anticipation of catching a glimpse of the real estate billionaire as he arrived on Monday at his penthouse apartment following a flight to LaGuardia Airport from his Florida home.

It was a similarly frenzied scene at the epicentre of the action, the lower Manhattan courthouse where Trump will face a judge on Tuesday as the first former US president to be indicted on criminal charges.

There were no signs of violent activity or any major visible confrontations between police and protesters ahead of Trump’s unprecedented court appearance, but the spectre of the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot, which Trump has been widely accused of inciting, was at the forefront of many New Yorkers’ minds. New York City’s 35,000-strong police force – which is coordinating security measures in conjunction with court police, the FBI and Secret Service – have been ordered to be in uniform and ready for deployment.

Al Jazeera spoke to New Yorkers at both locations about what they think of Trump’s return to his hometown, the spectacle of the former president’s approaching arraignment and how people feel about the heightened security presence throughout the city.

Adonis Porch, 36, professional line sitter, Queens

Adonis Porch, 36, braved the brisk spring weather to hold a spot in line for a New York news crew
Adonis Porch braves the brisk spring weather to hold a spot in line for a New York news crew outside Manhattan Criminal Court ahead of former President Donald Trump’s arraignment on April 4, 2023 [Dorian Geiger/Al Jazeera]

“I am not a Trump supporter, I’ve never been a Trump supporter, but I feel like what needs to be done, needs to be done, and I’d rather just keep it at that – while making a couple bucks. Today, I’m waiting in line from 4pm until 7am for a news station for them to be able to get inside of the courtroom for the proceeding. So I’m a professional line sitter. Same Old Line Dudes – we’ve been in business for 10 years, and I have been with the company celebrating 10 years this September. [I’m wearing] thermals and double socks and double underwear. I’ve been here now since about 3:49pm It’s 4:28am right now. I’ve waited in lines for an entire week and a half before. Honestly, I’m a little nervous. …[January 6] is coming to my mind, but you know what? Walk by faith, not by sight. I’m very much worried, but the security from the looks of things, they have it all under control. Plus, we’re New Yorkers – ain’t nobody going to mess with us here.”

Peggy Sue, 41, non-profit worker, Manhattan

Peggy Sue, 41, sporting a Guy Fawkes mask outside Manhattan Criminal Court
Peggy Sue, sporting a Guy Fawkes mask outside Manhattan Criminal Court, says she hopes Trump will be ‘vindicated’ [Dorian Geiger/Al Jazeera]

“I love and hate Trump. He’s flawed like every other single human being. I was a Democrat for years and years, and in 2018, I left the Democratic Party because I saw that the narrative from the media – I always believed that TV was bad because it’s television – they’re telling me a vision. I’m glad that he’s here, and I hope that he fights. He actually has the money to fight. I want him to vindicate his name. I believe they’re trying to make like a January 6th out of it. It’s not going to happen. If it does happen, it’s going to be bad actors. I’m a New Yorker, so I’m not afraid. I’m afraid to take my mask off in public now because I don’t want people knowing my address. I had to move and stuff because people found out I liked Trump. Not all transgenders hate Trump. Trump 2024! I think he won the election because of this. He doesn’t even have to go campaigning.”

Sarah Kirchhhoff, 21, and Hannah Stauber, 20, student tourists visiting from Munich, Germany

Sarah Kirchhoff, 21, and Hannah Stauber, 20, visiting New York from Munich, Germany
Sarah Kirchhoff and Hannah Stauber, visiting New York from Munich, Germany, are flummoxed after they stumble upon crowds surrounding the courthouse where Trump is expected to enter a not guilty plea on April 4, 2023 [Dorian Geiger/Al Jazeera]

Kirchhoff: “It’s weird. It’s like you’re a part of history being made. It’s just overwhelming. It might be prejudice, but I think coming here, I think there’s always the possibility of violence. That’s the picture we get in Europe and Germany. I’m not really worried for myself, but for the political climate and the general situation in America, it’s disturbing to see that is possible at all.”

Stauber: “We didn’t plan to walk here. We were here by accident. We were just in Chinatown, and we saw all those cameras, and we were like, ‘Huh, what’s going on there?’ Really curious but it’s very, very exciting to be here. Right now, at the moment, I don’t feel very unsafe.”

Philip Jobe, 55, retired, former Marine, Manhattan

Philip Jobe, 55, who had grown frustrated with the crowds surrounding the courthouse near his Manhattan apartment on Monday afternoon, feigned indifference towards Trump’s pending arraignment.
Philip Jobe, who has grown frustrated with the crowds surrounding the courthouse near his Manhattan apartment, expresses indifference towards Trump [Dorian Geiger/Al Jazeera]

“I came here, I fed my homeless people over there at Columbus Park, and I came here today to let them know that there is no man, there’s no woman on the face of this earth above the law. Trump is here right now. I mean, I think it’s political. Our DA [district attorney], it wasn’t his decision. I will be here tomorrow morning. I give two flying f***s about Donald Trump.”

Maxwell Lau, 62, business owner, Manhattan

Maxwell Lau, a 62-year-old Chinatown business owner became gleeful upon seeing the swarms of tourists, police officers and reporters who had assembled outside the courthouse hours before Trump’s court appearance. [Dorian Geiger/Al Jazeera]
Maxwell Lau, a Chinatown business owner, becomes gleeful upon seeing the swarms of tourists, police and reporters who had assembled outside the courthouse hours before Trump’s court appearance [Dorian Geiger/Al Jazeera]

“It will be interesting. It’s fun. It’s exciting to see so many people at this event. I think everybody wants to see what is going to happen to Trump, see if he really can survive all these attacks or finally face his final destination. I really have no idea [what’s going to happen]. I think [security] should be under control. It’s not like last time [January 6]. This time, they were prepared, and I think people are smarter not to cause any more trouble. It’s festive. People are happy, nothing too serious, nothing sad. People enjoy having fun. It’s springtime – good drama.”

Bob Fertik, 65, blogger and activist

Bob Fertik, 65, an anti-Trump supporter and president of progressive blog, Democrats.com, said he trekked to Trump Tower to catch a glimpse of the “scary protesters.” [Dorian Geiger/Al Jazeera]
Bob Fertik, an anti-Trump protester and president of the progressive blog Democrats.com, says he trekked to Trump Tower to catch a glimpse of the ‘scary protesters’ [Dorian Geiger/Al Jazeera]

“If [Trump] was a normal criminal, they would have locked him up and sent him to Rikers [jail]. They’re giving him special treatment. I feel very secure [due to the police presence]. That’s why I came. I wanted to see all those scary protesters. I’m glad Donald is going to be safe. I wouldn’t want any New Yorker to hurt him.”

Source: Al Jazeera