Former President Donald Trump’s appeal for protests ahead of his expected indictment in New York received mostly muted responses from followers, with even some of his most avid supporters criticising the idea as a waste of time or a law enforcement trap.
The confusion raises questions about whether Trump, despite being a leading Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential race with a devoted following, still has the ability to mobilise far-right supporters as he did more than two years ago before the Jan. 6, 2021, insurgency at the United States Capitol. It also implies that the hundreds of arrests made in the aftermath of the Capitol riot, as well as the convictions and heavy jail sentences, may have dimmed the desire for another major upheaval.
Nonetheless, law enforcement in New York is closely monitoring online talk warning of protests and violence if Trump is jailed, with threats varying in specificity and plausibility, according to four officials. The remarks, which were mostly posted online and in chat groups, included demands for armed protestors to impede law enforcement agents and seek to prevent any potential arrests, according to officials.
The New York Young Republicans Club has announced plans for a protest in an undisclosed location in Manhattan on Monday, and incendiary but isolated posts from supporters calling for an armed confrontation with law enforcement at Trump’s Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, have surfaced on fringe social media platforms.
Nevertheless, nearly two days after Trump said on his Truth Social platform that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday and urged followers to protest, there were few indications that his call had spurred his supporters to plan and coalesce around an event like the Jan. 6 gathering. In fact, a prominent organiser of the protests that preceded the Capitol incident said on Twitter that he planned to remain neutral.
Ali Alexander, the organiser of the “Stop the Steal” initiative, threatened Trump supporters in New York City that they would be “jailed or worse” if they protested Trump’s bogus assertions that Democrats stole the 2020 election from him.
“There is no liberty or rights for you there,” he tweeted.