'Huge dumpster': Chaos and spectacle in New York as Trump faces historic charges
In the end, it was nothing more than a cheap carnival.
Yes, there were some spectacular scenes at New York City's Collect Pond Park on Tuesday, when hundreds of pro-Donald Trump supporters and detractors turned up to taunt each other as the former US president made his way to court to face criminal charges.
But there was little to differentiate the competing rallies from the tiny former swamp on which they faced off: both were a damp squib.
Trump now takes the mantle as the first US president in history to be indicted for criminal charges.
Anticipating large crowds at the park, the New York Police Department put a whopping 35,000 police officers on standby and set careful parameters around the court and the park in lower Manhattan. But those crowds never arrived.
"Seems there are as many journalists as protesters," one journalist muttered to another as they jostled for space across the street from the courthouse.
All along Centre Street from City Hall to the park, television stations took up their live positions under white tents to catch a glimpse of Trump's motorcade as he arrived and left the court.
Hundreds of journalists circled the park gathering testimony from anyone who sought a platform.
"Trump saved this country. He closed the border. He didn't start wars. He has never, ever, been wrong about anything," Dennis, a pro-Trump supporter, told Middle East Eye.
"I have never voted for Republicans before but they are selling our country to the Chinese," he added.
'It is very important that Trump is held accountable'
- Jennifer Fisher, New York City resident
There were several pro-Trump supporters who continuously claimed, without offering evidence, that Biden was beholden to the Chinese. Several held posters screaming: "Trump is innocent", "Defeat-Fascist Democrat Party, "Trump Won", to "Trump or Death".
"The American government has been infiltrated by the CCP," another protester named Saturn, told MEE.
Almost all of those rallying for Trump described the charges against Trump, in a case involving hush money payments to an adult-film actress, as politically motivated and minuscule.
Trump was officially charged with 34 felony charges, none federal, on Tuesday after he was indicted by a grand jury last week.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
"I don't think this is a big issue. There is so much prostitution in New York. No one goes to a prostitute and wants it in the news," one protester, who asked not to be named, said.
Likewise, 19-year-old Maverick from Long Island told MEE that the case against Trump was "designed to hinder him from taking part in next year's election".
All through Tuesday morning and early afternoon, "pro-Trumpers" and detractors exchanged taunts from opposite ends of the park that were separated by steel barriers.
Police officers stood by as the verbal salvos flew across the corridor separating the two sides.
However, the tensions rarely reached a boiling point, with several individuals choosing to shake hands and chuckle at the absurdity of the steel barriers.
At times, the contradictions veered into the absurd.
"This is a witch hunt. If it happens to Trump, it can happen to anyone," one man donning a conical wax cap or witch's hat, told MEE.
But when MEE asked if others guilty of corruption were charged as a result, the man admitted: "Yes, it could be a good thing, but the way they are doing it is wrong, because these are weak charges."
Another pro-Trump supporter, Juliette Germanotta, wearing a MAGA cap, told MEE that even as a transgender woman, she believed the Republican Party was more welcoming to different points of view.
Germanotta, 41, said she is aware of the transphobic sentiments within the Republican Party, but felt more at home with the Republicans.
"I don't think transgender women should compete with women or that children should be exposed to treatment at an early age. For this, I don't feel accepted in the LGBTQ community," Germanotta says.
When it comes to the transphobes in the Republican Party, she said they will be working to drain that swamp.
"The Bible is printed in China after all. And it was written by a man," she added.
Even as the barriers were set up to prevent potential scuffles between both sides, supporters and detractors slipped in and out to observe, engage or simply deride each other, resulting in several escorted removals.
"They should take a photo of us shaking hands," one Trump supporter said out loud, hoping to grab the attention of onlookers.
Earlier in the day, Trump's motorcade made its way to the lower Manhattan courthouse, where the former president pumped his fist at the small group of supporters gathered in the park. There were some scuffles when a huge banner mocking Trump was unfurled.
As expected, Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and George Santos made their appearances at the park, but their comments were drowned out by the chants of the dueling crowds.
One man, in an orange jumpsuit and donning a Trump mask, roamed around the park posing with onlookers. A woman in an NYPD Halloween costume posed with a doll meant to be Trump.
"It is very important that Trump is held accountable," Jennifer Fisher, a lifelong New Yorker, told MEE.
"There is so much that he has done. There's classified documents, inciting violence, the several women who have accused him of sexual assault."
"It would be bad and dangerous for democracy if it didn't happen," Fisher added.
Referring to the Trump-supporting side of the fence, Fisher said that Trump had conned them.
"It has become a cult. I hope one day they eventually see the truth," she added.
On Tuesday, Trump asked for the case to be moved to Staten Island, New York, where there is a larger Republican base compared to Manhattan. Pro-Trump supporters have claimed he is likely to face bias in Manhattan should the case continue there. But they say there is no fear to be Republican in the city.
"This is New York. We aren't your typical Republicans," said Germanotta, the transgender, pro-Trump supporter.
"This is a huge dumpster that holds all types of garbage."