September 23, 2023


ATLANTA — Hours earlier than former President Donald Trump was anticipated to show himself in on the Fulton County Jail on expenses associated to his efforts to stay in energy after his 2020 election loss, dozens of his supporters had already gathered Thursday morning exterior the ability.

And the group grew steadily because the day progressed.

It is going to be the fourth time this 12 months that Trump, the early front-runner within the 2024 Republican presidential major, is booked on prison expenses. However in contrast to his earlier arrests, which occurred in courthouses simply earlier than preliminary appearances earlier than a choose, this time he will likely be turning himself in at a notoriously troubled jail.

Additionally completely different from his earlier surrenders: authorities are anticipated to take a reserving photograph of the previous president.

Trump and 18 others have been indicted final week, accused by Fulton County District Lawyer Fani Willis of taking part in a sprawling scheme to undermine the need of Georgia voters who had narrowly rejected the Republican incumbent in favor of Democrat Joe Biden. Lots of the others charged turned themselves in on the jail earlier on this week, together with Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis on Wednesday and John Eastman on Tuesday.

Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat has stated Trump, and the others on this case, will likely be handled like anybody else — notably saying at a information convention earlier this month: “Until someone tells me otherwise, we’re following our regular practices, and so it doesn’t matter your standing, we’ll have a mugshot prepared for you.”

However the scene exterior the jail was something however regular Thursday.

It included supporters of the previous president equivalent to Cliff MacMorris, 66, from Naples, Florida, who held a flag that learn, “Trump Received Save America.”

He and his spouse, Georgine, spent the night time in Atlanta.

“You don’t have the appropriate to persecute someone unjustly,” Cliff MacMorris stated.

His spouse stated the indictments towards the previous president have been politically motivated due to the 4 years of “prosperity, security, freedom” that Trump achieved within the White Home.

“They have to be nervous about him for some purpose,” she stated.

Sharon Anderson, 67, from east Tennessee, was exterior the jail for a second straight day. She had spent the night time in a automobile with the air-con working.

“I’m right here to assist Donald J. Trump. I would like him to see a few of the hundreds of thousands that present up on the polls for him.”

She stated the indictments towards Trump had solely strengthened her assist for him. The previous president questioned the election outcomes, which isn’t against the law, she stated.

Whereas the group was principally made up of Trump supporters, 64-year-old Laurie Arbeiter, who’s from New York Metropolis, wore a shirt that stated “Arrest Trump” and carried greater than 50 black-and-white indicators together with her, together with ones that learn “Convict Trump” and “Trump is a Traitor.” She stated she’d additionally traveled to different locations the place Trump was indicted.

As noon temperatures hovered close to 90 levels, sheriff’s deputies in vests toweled off and sought shade underneath a tree.

The principle Fulton County Jail, also called the Rice Road Jail, is situated in a historically industrial a part of northwest Atlanta the place warehouses are at the moment being redeveloped for retail and residential use. It’s set again from the road by a protracted, tree-lined driveway that results in a parking zone in entrance of the jail’s imposing façade.

On most days, the general public and information media are free to drive proper as much as the entrance of the jail and information cameras have captured the arrivals and departures of many high-profile individuals who have been booked into the jail. However with the reserving of a former president looming, the driveway off the primary avenue in entrance of the jail has been closed off for days, with no reporters or cameras allowed inside viewing distance of the constructing.

Safety tightened additional on Thursday. Whereas automobiles had been allowed on the Rice Road aspect of the jail a day earlier, sheriff’s deputies minimize off automobile site visitors on Thursday. Additionally they arrange barricades to maintain protesters and media again. Some deputies wore vests and coated their faces with black masks. They fashioned a line alongside the road.

Scores of supporters of the previous president have been already there by mid-morning, some waving flags with Trump’s title. Members of a bunch known as Blacks for Trump hurled racial slurs at Black sheriff’s deputies. However the demonstration was in any other case peaceable early on.

Whereas others who’re booked in there spend months and even years within the facility awaiting indictment or trial, Trump isn’t anticipated to spend time on the jail as soon as he’s booked. The jail is affected by crumbling infrastructure and overcrowding. On Thursday morning, the jail housed 2,618 folks, above its capability of two,254, in response to information from the sheriff’s workplace.

The U.S. Division of Justice final month introduced a civil rights investigation into jail situations in Fulton County, citing violence, filthy situations and the loss of life final 12 months of a person whose physique was discovered coated in bugs.