Image credit: Jo Freeman

A couple of thousand people spent most of April 4, 2023, milling around a small open square across from the entrance of the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse at 100 Centre St.  

Most were there to protest the indictment of former president Donald J. Trump on 34 counts of filing false business records.  

Some were there to celebrate it.

Known as Collect Pond Park, the square was part of a lake when Europeans first came to Manhattan.  Indeed, it was the main source of fresh water for the early settlers.  After it became more of a sewer, it underwent several transformations before its most recent one in 2012-14.

What’s left of the pond is mostly concrete, with two artificial recessed pools that were empty on April 4.  Pro- and anti- Trumpsters were assigned to opposite sides of the park and kept apart with barricades.

While people came and went over a six-hour period, there were probably two thousand on the pro-Trump side and one thousand among his detractors. 

There was some jeering and yelling when Trump acolyte Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R. GA) spoke briefly in the morning.  Once she left, the rest of the day was downright dull.  A few people followed her lead and carried signs condemning New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Others expressed hope for the future.

But not the same future.

Many hung out at the dividers yelling at each other.

Others sat or walked around.

Several entertained the crowd

While most stayed on their own side, it was easy to exit across the park at Lafayette St. and take the sidewalk to the other entrance, or just leave. 

The Centre St. side of the park was completely blocked off. Only certain cars were permitted on the street itself.  Only press, police, and other persons with passes could occupy the sidewalk across the street from the courthouse.

April 4 in Manhattan was not like January 6 in DC.  Forewarned was forearmed.  Many NYPD officers hung out among the protestors, ready to intervene if anything happened.  There were no arrests.

Members of the news media came from all over.  Those who couldn’t get into the courthouse to watch the indictment wandered the park around looking for people to interview.

While most signs were homemade,

the Trump flags were not.  Producing and selling Trump swag has become a profitable business  

This is in part because Trump has become a cult leader who commands loyalty from his followers regardless of his words or deeds. They covet anything with his name and likeness on it.

Dressing up was quite the thing to do.

As was dressing down. 

The relatively warm weather made dressing at all unnecessary.

Normal court business starts at 9:30 a.m. and adjourns around 1:00 p.m.  Judges do many other things in the afternoon.  The fact that Trump was brought into court mid-afternoon reflected the unusual nature of this case, or rather, this defendant, who is always guarded by Secret Service.  When Trump entered the building through a side entrance most business requiring a courtroom was over for the day.  It was easier to do a security sweep and remove personnel from around the courtroom where Trump was to be arraigned.

Carved into the front of the Manhattan Criminal Court building are the words: EQUAL AND EXACT JUSTICE TO ALL MEN OF WHATEVER STATE OR PERSUASION

When Trump was ready to leave, court officers created an illusion that he would exit from the main entrance to 100 Centre St. 

Only court personnel left by that entrance.  Trump was taken out a side entrance before all that press even knew he was out of the building.

Jo Freeman is a feminist scholar and author.

Jo has finished her book Tell It Like It Is: Living History in the Southern Civil Rights Movement, 1965-66, and is looking for a publisher.
Copyright ©2023 Jo Freeman.