NEW YORK — Former President Donald Trump’s surrender to law-enforcement authorities Tuesday created a spectacle in lower Manhattan, throwing the zone around the criminal courthouse into lockdown while throngs of reporters and curious onlookers competed to gain access to the proceedings.
The street containing the primary entrance to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, where Trump turned himself in to be booked, had been closed off by police. Helicopters buzzed overhead and police roamed the surrounding streets, corralling passersby behind gates to prevent them from getting too close to the prosecutors’ office or to the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse, which occupy the same building.
Trump is set to be arraigned on criminal charges connected to his alleged role in a hush money payment made to a porn star at 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday.
The first current or former president ever to be indicted, Trump was accompanied by U.S. Secret Service and traveled by motorcade from Trump Tower, where he stayed overnight Monday, down to lower Manhattan.
He will remain in the custody of the district attorney’s office until he is escorted by foot to a courtroom Tuesday afternoon to be arraigned. For Trump, the accommodations of the district attorney’s office, a drab government facility, are likely to be much less comfortable than his typical surroundings.
Across the street from the courthouse, thousands of reporters had set up camp. A line of about 100 reporters had remained there overnight in hopes of obtaining one of the limited number of seats in the courtroom where Trump will be arraigned.
They weren’t the only ones fighting to get a glimpse of the historic day. The judge overseeing the proceedings set aside a small number of seats for the general public, and one father and son pair from Long Island spent the night outside the courthouse trying to nab those spots.
“We drove in from Long Island at like one in the morning,” said the son, Ethan Reed, 19, of Great Neck. “It’s never happened before, I think it’s a pretty important moment in history so I’m just looking to be a part of it.”
His father, David Reed, 59, an elementary teacher, said he had been watching the news Monday night when it occurred to him that they could drive in for the event. He suggested it to his son, and a short while later they were standing in a line behind about 60 reporters. “It’s history in the making,” David Reed said.
Without blankets or chairs, they stood in line for about seven hours before court officers began handing out tickets to the general public. The Reeds gained access to the overflow room.
Despite calls from the former president to protest the indictment, turnout so far has been small. During a protest last week, supporters clamoring for the indictment of the former president far outnumbered Trump supporters.
Outside the courthouse Tuesday, a smattering of pro-Trump protesters had arrived by 9 a.m. Teenage girls draped in American flags, men waiving Trump flags, and moms in MAGA hats filled a small park across from the courthouse.
Paulina Farrell, who was also at the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, came from Long Island to protest the indictment. “I’m here for his support because we feel he is being unjustly attacked,” said Farrell, holding a Trump Flag. “I feel that he is standing up for American people and our freedoms and the people are persecuting him because they do not stand up for the American people.”
Farrell said she was thrilled that Marjorie Taylor Greene would be leading a rally by the courthouse later Tuesday morning, and did not anticipate violence on the scale of Jan. 6. “I hope it stays peaceful,” she said. “On our side, it will. There might be (unrest) if the other side antagonizes but not from us.”
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