Trump’s Maga army fails to materialise outside of Miami federal court for ex-president’s arraignment

Most of Donald Trump’s supporters didn’t seem to be listening to his calls to turn up outside the Miami federal courthouse

Andrew Feinberg
in Miami
Tuesday 13 June 2023 22:33 BST
Protester who jumped in front of motorcade calls Donald Trump 'master of spin'

After he was indicted for the second time in three months, former president Donald Trump stoked fears of possible violence by urging his supporters to show up at the Miami federal courthouse where he made his first appearance on Tuesday.

Judging from the turnout, most of his supporters didn’t seem to be listening.

More than two years ago, the twice-impeached, now twice-indicted ex-president summoned a riotous mob of supporters to Washington, DC, many of whom assaulted police officers and sacked the US Capitol in hopes of preventing Congress from certifying his loss to President Joe Biden.

That day, Mr Trump spoke to a crowd of tens of thousands who’d gathered near the White House to hear him denounce the electoral process that had, four years earlier, made him the leader of the free world.

Now, with the former president facing state criminal charges in his former home state of New York and federal charges in his adopted home state of Florida, his ability to manifest a violent mob appears to have been attenuated since his exit from the White House.

To be sure, law enforcement officials in Miami appeared to have made preparations for the possibility that protesters could show up en masse on Tuesday.

On Monday, Miami mayor Francis Suarez told reporters that there would be plans in place to “make sure that everyone has a right to peacefully express themselves and exercise their constitutional rights” in “an obviously peaceful manner” and said he hoped anyone who showed up to protest “would be peaceful”.

City officials had reportedly prepared for as many as 50,000 protesters to pack the area surrounding the downtown courthouse.

But in the end, the number of Trump superfans who came to support the ex-president looked to be only a few hundred.

The paltry crowd didn’t appear to be organized in any manner, though they did disrupt proceedings outside the building by blocking traffic at times.

Dramatic moment protestor Domenic Santana of Miami, Florida, runs out in front of former President Donald Trump’s motorcade (EPA)

One anti-Trump protester, a man called Domenic Santana, even went to far as to temporarily block Mr Trump’s motorcade as the ex-president attempted to leave after court proceedings.

Mr Santana, who had been walking around the building clad in an old-time prisoner costume while carrying a sign that read “Lock Him Up,” spoke to The Independent earlier in the day about his reasons for coming to the courthouse.

“Hopefully, someday he has to be locked up. He should have been locked up a long, long time ago. He’s gotten away with it. He’s the master of spin, either graduate from New York School of Rats and he has a master’s degree and he knows how to spin it. He’s going to spin it on this one. ‘It’s political. It’s because I’m running for president that they’re accusing me,’” he said.

“He has his case made up. He doesn’t need lawyers to defend him. He already knows the spin. Before the election, ‘Oh, if I lose it’s because of fraud’. That day he lost – ‘Oh, fraud, fraud fraud’. His Attorney General – ‘There was no fraud’. ‘You’re fired,’ the next day. Come on. Enough is enough,” Mr Santana added.

The ersatz prisoner was one of a few colourful characters who spent the day wandering around the massive courthouse and adjacent buildings, either in support or in opposition to the man who was arraigned there on Tuesday.

One pro-Trump performer, a man who identified himself only as “Uncle Jams,” rolled about the courthouse plaza on a hoverboard while singing pro-Trump and anti-Biden ditties.

Another group of well-known Trump supporters, members of the “Blacks for Trump” group, arrived on the scene early in the morning, led by founder and Miami native Maurice Woodside, also known as Michael the Black Man.

Mr Woodside, who gained some measure of notoriety during Mr Trump’s rise to the presidency due to his constant presence at the ex-president’s campaign rallies, led a group of maybe 30 people in identical “Blacks for Trump” shirts, who walked around together and intermittently chanted the ex-president’s name.

Trump supporters gather outside the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. United States Federal Courthouse as former President Donald Trump appears for his arraignment on June 13, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Getty Images)

At times, the scene outside the courthouse took on a circus atmosphere, with pro-Trump protesters mingling among scores of tents belonging to news organisations, who’d sent correspondents from all over the world to cover the spectacle of the ex-president’s court appearance.

There was, however, one more ominous moment earlier in the day, when Federal Protective Service officers and Miami police cordoned off the area directly in front of the courthouse while they investigated what they described as a suspicious package discovered in a local television station’s satellite truck.

After roughly an hour, officers signaled that there was no danger, and reporters returned to their work while awaiting the former president’s arrival.

Throughout all the chaos, Miami residents who live and work in the downtown area milled about the courthouse plaza as they went about their day.

One such city denizen who spoke to The Independent but declined to state his name, said he thought the ex-president could have avoided the jeopardy posed by the case against him had he just followed the law.

“I don’t know why he did it … I read the indictment and he would’ve been in a good place right now if he’d just given it all back when asked,” he said.

Don Julio. (Andrew Feinberg/The Independent)

The Miami resident, who was out walking his American Bulldog, Don Julio, commented that there appeared to be far more reporters than protesters.

Don Julio, who at first seemed slightly annoyed by the interruption to his daily routine, did not comment on the allegations against Mr Trump, but instead sat down next to this reporter to accept a belly rub before looking out at the courthouse plaza, a broad smile on his face.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in