NEW YORK: Policing the “city that never sleeps” is no easy task even on a typical day — so New York law enforcement agencies are taking no chances ahead of Donald Trump’s high-profile court appearance next week, bracing for protests for and against the first indictment ever of a former US president.
The city’s police department has ordered its 36,000 officers to be in uniform and ready to deploy next week, NBC News reported, citing official sources.
Asked about their posture ahead of Trump’s arraignment, a New York Police Department (NYPD) spokesperson said that “officers have been placed on alert,” and stand ready to “ensure everyone is able to peacefully exercise their rights”.
Trump, 76, is to be booked and fingerprinted and have his mugshot taken at a Manhattan courthouse on Tuesday afternoon before appearing before a judge.
While the specific charges remain under seal, the case brought by New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg is widely believed to revolve around a $130,000 hush money payment Trump gave a porn star ahead of his successful 2016 election.
Protests on both sides of the issue — which the president and his supporters have decried as “political persecution” — are expected to grow in the city, raising fears of unrest.
Trump supporters, including Republican member of Congress Marjorie Taylor Greene, have announced plans to protest outside the courtroom during his appearance.
For now, the NYPD spokesperson said, there are “no current credible threats to New York City.”
‘Politicised judicial systems’
Outside Trump’s eponymous skyscraper on Fifth Avenue, a dozen or so people had already taken position on Friday with signs and banners that said, “Arrest Trump” and “Tick Tock, Time’s Up!” Another sign read, “No one is above the law.”
A man in a Trump costume made an appearance, and took pictures with a couple of the former president’s supporters, who carried a banner supporting his 2024 campaign.
Outside the district attorney’s heavily guarded office, Susan, a 60-year-old lawyer who declined to give her last name, had no qualms about saying she supports policies that Trump espouses, although “I don’t like his personality.” The expected charges against Trump are overblown, at best “a misdemeanour, not a felony,” she said.
“This is ridiculous — politically motivated. I am ashamed of this justice in America that looks like that of other countries with politicised judicial systems,” she said.
Earlier in the day, three friends from San Sebastian in Spain’s Basque country passed by to take in the scene before heading to a tour of Chinatown.
“It seems strange to us,” 72-year-old Pilar Banos said. “The fact that they will put him in the car with his head bowed gives him prominence and votes because it will seem like an injustice to many people.”
Trump has called the investigation a “witch hunt” and denied having any relationship with the porn star known as Stormy Daniels.
The next chapter in his legal travails will come on Tuesday, when the court reveals the actual charges pending against him.
Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2023
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