NEW YORK – A single supporter of the former president was parked on Madison Avenue behind Trump Tower in Manhattan Saturday in a Honda Civic with a Make America Great Again hat in the windshield.
He hoped to return Tuesday to protest Trump’s arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court, but said his attendance depended on whether Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) came to back conservatives in the deep blue city. The far-right congresswoman is organizing a rally in support of Trump on Tuesday.
“We’re not showing up here by ourselves, you know what happened in the Capitol on January 6,” said Sohaib Gulzar, 23, who’d driven to Manhattan from his home in Jersey City.
“If ANTIFA and them shows up and our national representatives are there, then we are going to show up because we know we’ll have a second eye there watching out for us,” said Gulzar, who is working to get his real-estate license.
Some conservatives have warned each other not to protest Trump’s indictment, citing a conspiracy theory that January 6 was orchestrated by Democrats.
Gulzar was the only MAGA protester outside the Fifth Avenue skyscraper for most of Saturday. Trump has said he’ll spend Monday night in his Trump Tower penthouse before surrendering to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Tuesday morning on charges related to a 2016 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
Later Saturday, when the rain made way to a warm spring afternoon, a Bronx Republican exchanged barbs with a Southern Democrat on Fifth Avenue in front Trump Tower.
“I’m going to stand out here Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday,” said Mario Laboy, 78, of the Bronx. “If you look at the facts you’ll see it’s a political persecution against Trump, but this will just make him stronger,” he said, waiving a Trump 2024 flag and chanting, “I supported Donald J. Trump.”
A tourist from Tennessee shouted at the retired septuagenarian, calling him “fucking crazy.”
“Where do I start, who in the world supports Donald Trump?” said Lucy Wright, 56, a divorce attorney from Chattanooga, who said she was seriously contemplating extending her vacation in New York so she could take part in anti-Trump protests on Tuesday.
“I would be perfectly fine to be thrown in jail for assault, just to grab his [Trump’s] balls once, if he can grab our pussies, I would grab his balls,” she said referring to the infamous remark Trump made in 2005 that was released during the presidential election in 2016.
The scattered pockets of political tension outside the building were small manifestations of larger discussions online surrounding the former president’s imminent arrest.
Trump predicted “death and destruction” if he were to face criminal charges in a post on Truth Social.
Rep. Greene took up the call after a Manhattan grand jury voted Thursday to indict Trump.
“New York put your MAGA hats on. Under our constitutional rights, we WILL support President Trump and protest the tyrants,” said Greene in a tweet Friday. “I’ll see you on Tuesday.”
Threats of violence and protest filled conservative websites as well. On the far-right chat site patriots.win, once TheDonald.win — a site which lawmakers said played a significant role in organizing January 6 — users called for a “nationwide strike” and for “all patriots” to “bring society to a halt.”
The indictment of Donald Trump was the top section in the chat site on Saturday, with users saying they planned to arrive in New York Tuesday.
The NYPD is preparing for potential unrest, by potentially blocking off the streets around the lower Manhattan courthouse and removing all cars in the case of a bomb threat, a law enforcement officer told POLITICO last week. The former president plans to arrive via motorcade, that officer said.
But inside Trump Tower on Saturday, the scene was more staid.
The Bee Gees 1977 hit song “Night Fever” played through the brass and marble lobby’s speakers as tourists browsed MAGA hats, ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ swag and NYC tchotchkes in the gift shop. The lobby drew both supporters and detractors of the former president.
“It was so cool. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Helena Sherill, 47, a tourist from Nashville, Tennessee, who stopped to visit the tower. “Whatever he does, it’s his sex life. Whatever he pays for, it’s his business — as long as he takes care of us.”
Other visitors at the famed skyscraper disagreed.
“He was able to close borders, not let Muslims in, abuse his position and money. It’s not fair,” said Uri Reznik, 48, a tourist from Frankfurt, Germany. “He is just getting back the seeds he’s sewn.”
Reznik was with his 15-year-old son and the teen’s friends. They wore MAGA hats they’d bought at the gift shop.
“On the news we see him as a businessman, a strong man. When you look at that you think, ‘I’d like to be like that when I grow up,’” said Jack Wrovel, 15, one of the young Germans.
Reznik shrugged. “They should grow up open-minded, they should know the world and, in the end, make up their own minds. Right now they like Trump,” he said.