NEW YORK — It took a squad of New York City cops to escort Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) through the crowd outside Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday, a thin wall of uniforms between the far-right member of Congress and a circus of former President Donald Trump’s supporters, anti-Trump protesters, and a wave of reporters tripping over themselves to get a good view.
Greene’s “stage” was a couple of park benches, and her message was similar to that of the MAGA hat-clad, flag-waving Trump faithfuls who swarmed lower Manhattan: Trump’s indictment is a threat to the American way of life.
“The real threat to democracy is today, when they are arresting him! I cannot believe that this is happening,” Greene belted through a bullhorn, adding that New York City used to be great but “is no more,” and that Democrats were child abusers.
“President Trump will be found innocent!” she said before making a swift exit. “This witch hunt will end! We will not tolerate it!”
Barely anyone could hear the lawmaker and her follow-up act, the far-right internet performer Jack Posobiec, as a coterie of anti-Trump protesters led by New York City public advocate Jumaane Williams burst through the media scrum blowing whistles.
But Posobiec’s voice floated above the din long enough to argue that Trump’s motorcade to the courthouse for his arraignment was “the funeral procession for our republic.”
As the hours ticked on and Trump supporters and opponents craned for a view of the alleged criminal, Collect Pond Park — directly across the street from the courthouse — turned into a living comment section. Trump supporters and opponents alike were there to be seen, keenly aware of the dense concentration of reporters filming everything.
After Greene left, anti- and pro-Trump protesters traded barbs across a metal fence installed by the NYPD to keep the two factions separate. Fights nearly broke out when opposing sides intermingled with each other. “F****ts! F****ts!” red-hatted Trump supporters chanted at two gay men who entered the MAGA section of the park.
Several pro-Trump supporters sported white supremacist symbols on their clothing. One young white man wore a skull mask and implored the crowd to watch “Europa: The Last Battle,” a deeply antisemitic 2017 film that falsely claims Jews started both world wars. “White Lives Matter!” shouted a man carrying a “Trump or Death” flag and a bottle of liquor.
Nearby, a middle-aged white man who identified himself only as “Michael from New Jersey” carried a sign parroting an old MAGA meme. It stated: “WHAT YOU NEED TO DEAL WITH THE LIBERAL BIASED NEWS MEDIA: A TREE. A ROPE. A HORSE OR CHAIR. A LIBERAL NEWS REPORTER. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.”
Michael even brought his own noose — which he said he made himself — that he taped to his sign. When pressed if this meant he wanted to hang a reporter from HuffPost, Michael was a little less feisty, stating he only wanted to kill those journalists who wanted to “overthrow the government.” He then declined to comment on his whereabouts on Jan. 6, 2021.
“I will personally put the fucking noose around that son-of-a-bitch’s neck,” Michael said separately, referring to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. “This is a real Texas necktie.”
That imagery abounded Tuesday: Chris Cox, the “Bikers for Trump” leader, said the indictment was a “political lynching” and observed that it would have been “political suicide” if Greene hadn’t demonstrated her loyalty to Trump with an appearance.
Trump’s arraignment brought its share of gawkers: The Naked Cowboy, normally a Times Square institution, smiled widely for selfies and parried away reporters’ questions about politics. “I’ve committed so many crimes in my life without even trying,” he told one reporter inquiring about Trump.
Casey Neistat, the well-known vlogger, told HuffPost he showed up to the park because it was a short walk from his office and “it feels like the center of the universe when you see this on television.”
A half-dozen Trump impersonators circulated among the crowd, sporting rubber masks and cheap suits. “They never trusted anybody to open carry in a jail, but they trust me!” Jason Scoop, sheltered under a platinum blond wig, bragged in-character to a friendly crowd of Trump supporters.
Even Vincent Fusca, who some followers in the QAnon conspiracy theory are convinced is John F. Kennedy Jr. — the Kennedy scion died in a plane crash in 1999 — made an appearance. Fusca declined to be interviewed, except to say that he was a “concerned American.”
Benjamin Geller, a legislator for Dutchess County upstate, wore a suit with a Trump pin. He’s a member of the New York Young Republican Club, the far-right group headed by Gavin Wax, who has close ties to the violent neo-fascist group the Proud Boys — a fact that did not concern Geller.
“He’s not currently associated with the Proud Boys, so … ” he said.
Another member of the New York Young Republican Club, Paul Ingrassia, also wore a suit with his hair slicked back. He said he was a lawyer but declined to name the firm he works for.
“I’m here to show support for Donald Trump during one of the darkest hours I think in our country’s history,” he said, as a media scrum formed around another member of Congress who arrived in the park: Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), the serial liar from Long Island.
Ingrassi said he liked Santos, arguing that “a lot of what he said isn’t lies.”
Santos, like most of the crowd Tuesday, seemed to acknowledge Trump’s arraignment for what it was: a photo-op. After a quick trample around the Collect Pond Park bushes, Santos left the area.
“You try not to be part of the circus, but part of the branding of these people,” said one demonstrator with an anti-Trump sign. Ozzie Hernandez, who wielded a “Trump Felon” poster board, debated with Trump supporters, accompanied by a blue-jacketed police officer that he joked was a bodyguard.
“This is good trouble,” Hernandez said. “I’m getting the word out in the street: His moniker now is ‘felony.’ We’ll be able to change that, hopefully, to ‘jailbird.’”
The Naked Cowboy started to play a song. “Thank God for Donald J. Trump,” he crooned while strumming his guitar. “He’s still gonna make 2024 great again, sounds like a good idea to me.”
“Just don’t go on the other side of the fence and say that,” he added, gesturing at the assembled anti-Trump protesters. “You’ll get killed!”
No one was getting killed on the anti-Trump side, although reporters from right-wing news outlets like Fox News and Newsmax were chased away.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to most of the assembled protesters, Trump had entered the courthouse, where he was arrested and arraigned.