At former President Donald Trump’s last criminal arraignment in lower Manhattan in April, the scene was tense but compressed into one of downtown’s narrow canyons. There were as many media reporters as onlookers and protestors.
At today’s arraignment, which is scheduled for 3 p.m. at downtown Miami’s federal courthouse, the location is comparatively accessible, more conducive for gatherings, and the city is taking no chances.
At a press conference yesterday, Miami Mayor Frances Suarez joined Police Chief Manuel Morales and other law enforcement leaders to send a message that peace will be maintained, whether the event draws 5,000 or 50,000 people. “We want to assure the public that we’ve already begun preparations,” Suarez said. But the location is not firmly locked up; barriers will depend, Morales said, on the size and composition of the crowd. Suarez said some road closures are possible.
Suarez characterized the role of law enforcement as a balancing act between free speech and lawfulness. “In our city,” he said, “we believe in the Constitution, we believe that people should have the right to express themselves, but we also believe in law and order. We hope that tomorrow will be peaceful, and we encourage people to be peaceful in demonstrating how they feel, and we’re going to have the forces necessary to ensure that.”
Morales took a somewhat warier tone, perhaps in light of the state’s looser gun laws compared to New York, a spike in violent online chatter, and an expected rally by the Proud Boys, a right-wing extremist group. “We know there’s a potential of things taking a turn for the worst, but that’s not the Miami way,” he said. Morales said no protest permits had been issued, but that there was a plan in place to separate “opposing parties” as needed.
“We are ready,” he added, “we are ready for it to be over and done.”