Trump fans and critics face off near a Manhattan courthouse as former president is arraigned

A Trump Supporter dressed as Freddy Krueger at a protest held in Collect Pond Park
A Trump supporter dressed as Freddy Krueger at a protest across the street from the Manhattan district attorney’s office in New York.
(Stefan Jeremiah / Associated Press)

Separated by uniformed police and metal barriers, dozens of fans and foes of Donald Trump shouted, jeered and cursed at each other, waved flags and donned comical costumes while history played out just across the street in a Manhattan courthouse.

Anti-Trump protesters at one point rolled out a large banner that read, “Trump Lies All the Time,” prompting a brief scuffle as supporters of the former president damaged the banner.

The chilly spring afternoon was filled with a cacophony of chants, drums, whistles and the rotors of circling news helicopters.


This was the loud but mostly nonviolent scene in New York on Tuesday during the unprecedented arraignment of the former president, as Trump surrendered to be arraigned on 34 felony counts of falsification of business records and allegations connected to hush money payments made days before the 2016 election.

Donald Trump, surrounded by men in ties and uniforms, walks through a doorway
Former President Trump, center, at criminal court in New York on Tuesday. Trump, the first former U.S. president to be indicted, pleaded not guilty when he appeared in a Manhattan state court to face criminal charges.
(Angus Mordant / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Demonstrators erupted in cheers, rattled cowbells, pounded on drums and blew loud whistles as Trump arrived at the court via motorcade and then walked into the courthouse to be fingerprinted and processed for arrest.

Trump supporters and critics filled a park across the street from the courthouse, in a gathering that was mostly peaceful but included a few, brief scuffles and face-offs between protesters.

Former President Trump returns to Mar-a-Lago after his arraignment on charges related to an alleged scheme to cover up a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels.

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Some carried signs celebrating the indictment of the 45th president, while fervent Trump supporters vowed to continue to stand behind the former president regardless of the charges.

The crowds quickly thinned after Trump and his entourage climbed back into their black SUVs and sped away, leaving a handful of protesters milling about in the aftermath of an afternoon that seemed part protest, part circus.


The city was on high alert for the afternoon hearing, with officials promising elevated security and urging anyone who planned to protest to behave.

“New York is already always, always ready,” Mayor Eric Adams said at a Monday news conference, promising added security in the city. “While there may be some rabble-rousers ... our message is clear and simple: Control yourselves.”

Demonstrators gather outside New York criminal court
Demonstrators gather outside New York criminal court Tuesday. Former President Trump appeared in a New York City courtroom on charges related to falsifying business records in a hush money investigation, the first former president ever to be charged with a crime.
(Yuki Iwamura / Associated Press)

The charges Trump faces stem from a $130,000 payment made by his former attorney Michael Cohen to adult film star Stormy Daniels — money allegedly paid to prevent her from publicly saying she had an affair with Trump. The former president has been accused of hiding his reimbursement to Cohen by funneling it through his business and recording the payments as legal services.

Hundreds of people filled the park across the street from the courtroom, as the historic moment drew supporters and opponents of the former president, as well as reporters and passersby who wanted to witness the event.

Dozens of members of the media, as well as some members of the public, had been lined up since Monday to gain access to the courtroom for Trump’s arraignment.

VIDEO | 02:03
Trump fans and critics converge on Manhattan ahead of former president’s arraignment

Supporters and critics of former President Trump fill a park across the street from the courthouse amid extra security ahead of his arraignment.

Trump is facing separate investigations into his alleged attempts to interfere in the 2020 election; alleged involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol; and his handling of classified documents after leaving office.

As pedestrians walked to work early Tuesday or took their dogs out around the blocks near the criminal courthouse in Lower Manhattan, hundreds of journalists — including TV camera crews, photographers and reporters — gathered across the street while helicopters whizzed overhead.

In hopes of keeping the peace, authorities divided the park into two camps separated by a line of barricades: those who back the president, and those who don’t. One side cheered to “lock him up,” echoing the similar cheers that Trump once led about his political opponents.

Supporters of former President Trump gather on a street corner, one with a sign reading "Trump or death"
Trump supporters gather outside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on Tuesday.
(John Minchillo / Associated Press)

Cowbells and blowing whistles rang out, and one person held a sign that read “thank you Alvin,” a reference to Manhattan Dist. Atty. Alvin Bragg, who presented the case against Trump. Another person wore a Trump mask and a black-and-white jailhouse uniform.


Facing them on the other side were Trump supporters, waving Trump 2024 flags, wearing MAGA hats and erupting into “USA” chants.

At one point, about a dozen or so of the former president’s supporters began to chant, “Lock up Bragg!” referring to the district attorney.

Although confrontations turned tense at times, the New York Police Department reported no arrests at the protest by late Tuesday afternoon.

Adams and New York Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said there were no specific or credible threats in the run-up to Trump’s court appearance, but the city would be significantly increasing its police presence as a precaution.

By Monday, layers of fences and barriers had been placed in and around Trump Tower. City officials urged people to use public transit, warning that Tuesday’s hearing and possible protests would bring significant traffic to the area.

Parts of the park across the street from the courthouse were also barricaded Tuesday morning, and law enforcement officials — uniformed police officers and community affairs officials, and members of the New York Police Department’s tactical response unit — stood guard. New York state court officers, who are normally based in the courthouse, also patrolled the area.


Among Trump fans milling about the park was Norman Ross, who wore a blue Trump hat and held a copy of the New York Post under his arm. He was critical of the indictment, and said he would be even if Trump were a Democrat.

“I feel the case isn’t strong enough, from what I hear,” the 59-year-old from Brooklyn said. “I’ve seen a persecution of Donald Trump … at least since the man came down the escalator in 2015. I’m sick of it.”

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Ross, who was in Washington on Jan. 6 but said he did not storm the Capitol, said he expected Tuesday’s protest to be a “peaceful, congenial, wonderful experience where we support our president.”

Nearby, two protesters stood side by side in the park but on opposite ends when it comes to their opinions on Trump. Michael Picard was wearing American flag overalls and a “Make America Great Again” hat. Beside him stood a counterprotester flipping through signs that read “We Believe Stormy Daniels” and “Trump Lies All the Time.”

The pair shared a very brief embrace at the behest of a videographer.

“I think it’s a travesty of justice,” Picard said.

Picard, 34, traveled from Hartford, Conn., and said there’s no crime Trump could commit that would deter his support for the former president.

“He’s the greatest president of the United States,” he said, adding that Trump’s credentials include a “magnificent head of hair.”


At the other end of the park, a scuffle and argument broke out between protesters, including Juliet Germanotta, who has been arrested at past protests and was wearing a MAGA hat. Two counterprotesters wearing “Arrest Trump” sweatshirts were involved in the fracas.

Dion Cini of Brooklyn held a “Trump or Death” flag emblazoned with the years 1776 and 2024, and Trump’s face.

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He criticized the indictment against Trump, saying there’s “real crime” happening in his neighborhood. Even if Trump was guilty of the crimes described in the indictment, he said, there’s no line the former president could cross that would make him turn on Trump.

“Like [Trump] said, he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue, and I don’t really care, because what he does for America outweighs, you know, a crime even like that,” Cini said. “He said it; I didn’t. But I support him because he’s the only American president who ever said, ever, since George Washington, America first. No president has ever said that.”

Jennifer Fisher held a small American flag and a placard that read, “Trump’s trials have just begun.”

“They wouldn’t bring the charges if they didn’t have the evidence,” said Fisher, 63, who lives in Manhattan and is retired. “It’s not political, it’s justice.”


Daniel Rivera and Daniel Dorry, both 20-year-old college students, were walking around Hogan Place on Tuesday morning. They live nearby and came to the courthouse to “witness a moment.”

“It seems like things are tense right now, with some people waiting to see Trump, and Marjorie Taylor Greene,” Dorry said. “There’s just a lot of police.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks at a protest
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) speaks at a protest held in Collect Pond Park across the street from the Manhattan district attorney’s office in New York on Tuesday.
(Stefan Jeremiah / Associated Press)

But, Rivera noted, “There’s surprisingly a small amount of people with signs.”

As Trump’s arraignment approached Tuesday, the mood in the park remained tense and loud. Protesters on both ends continued to shout at each other from behind barricades while police kept the two sides separated.

When a cameraperson from Newsmax attempted to film anti-Trump demonstrators, protesters followed them chanting, “Fake news,” rang a cowbell in the background and put a black umbrella in front of the reporter’s face.

TV news coverage of the former president’s arrest had a somber tone. But there were still plenty of partisan jabs on conservative networks Fox News, Newsmax and OAN.

April 4, 2023

The pro-Trump news organization has been known to push conspiracy theories on air and is currently locked in a defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems over the network’s alleged role in spreading false information conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.


Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican known for spinning wild conspiracy theories, arrived about 10:30 a.m., delivering a speech to Trump supporters who waved pro-Trump and American flags, while critics loudly derided her as a conspiracy theorist.

As she made her way back to her car, surrounded by security and law enforcement, people yelled profanities at her, urging her to get out of New York City.

“Conspiracy theorist coming through, get out of the way,” one person yelled as Greene tried to make her way through the crowd.

George Santos, the embattled freshman Republican congressman from New York who lied about his resume and is under investigation, was also seen at the park across the street from the courthouse and pushed through media members while ignoring shouted questions about the broad investigations Santos is facing.

Nadine Seiler, a Trump critic, stood on the other end of the park holding a banner that read, “Finally coming: Trump arrested.”

Seiler, 57, has been outside the White House every day since Thursday, she said, but she decided to travel to New York from her home in Waldorf, Md., on Monday after hearing Greene would be in New York.


“Marjorie Taylor Greene brought me here,” Seiler, a home organizer, said. “I had no plans to come here. But when she decided she was going to bring her thugs to N.Y.C., I felt obligated to come.”

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Seiler added that she thinks Greene wants a “second insurrection” and was coming to try to incite Trump supporters into action.

“They’re divorced from reality,” she said.

By 4:30 p.m., the flags bearing Trump’s name and face were gone, and all that remained was a small circle of people surrounding a Trump fan and a critic who had begun to argue in the park.

One man stood nearby in an orange jumpsuit and Trump mask, standing in what resembled a mock jail cell.

At a news conference Monday, Adams had singled out Greene, saying, “Although we have no specific threats, people like Marjorie Taylor Greene — who is known to spread misinformation and hate speech — she stated she’s coming to town.”

He had a message for the congresswoman and other protesters: “While you’re in town, be on your best behavior.”


Still, others were drawn to the courthouse to witness what would be a historic moment.

Aura Moody of Queens, one of the pro-Trump demonstrators who stayed late Tuesday, had been at the park since the early morning.

“I continue to support President Trump because he’s not fighting for him, he is fighting for us — we the people,” Moody, 63, said, adding that the opponents were looking to undercut his 2024 election run.

William Bond and his son, Alex, stood against the barricade, facing off against pro-Trump demonstrators.

Their family traveled from Monrovia to New York and Washington for a family vacation, and their timing coincided with Tuesday’s arraignment.

“Part of this trip was coming from California to experience the heart and center of the financial and political worlds of the U.S., and this is a great opportunity to see both at once,” Bond said.

Chants and cowbells rang while his 14-year-old son looked on.

“For the rest of his life, he will be able to hear about this moment from other people,” Bond said about his son. “He’ll be able to say he was there for it.”


Times staff writers Petri reported from New York and Hernandez and Winton from Los Angeles.