Members of the New York Young Republicans and the Long Island Loud Majority hold a scarcely attended rally for former President Donald Trump outside the offices of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg in New York City on March 20, 2023.
NEW YORK — The leadership of the New York Young Republican Club, a far-right group, wants to be very clear: It’s actually a good thing that only a handful of Donald Trump supporters showed up for the pro-Trump rally outside the office on Monday. of the Manhattan District Attorney.
“We purposefully kept it small,” the club’s president Gavin Wax told HuffPost.
“I think there are more cameras here than people,” noted Vish Burra, the club’s executive secretary and a staffer for Rep. George Santos (RN.Y.).
“I prefer a lower turnout,” said Troy Olson, sergeant-at-arms.
The turnout could not have been much lower. Despite Trump’s call just a few days prior to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK” pending criminal charges for years old silent cash payments According to adult actor Stormy Daniels, there were far more members of the media than Trump supporters at the rally.
Monday’s event turned into something of a media petting zoo for the threatened Republicans, some of whom sought interview requests while others hid their faces for fear of identification.
“I had about 50 cameras with me!” exclaimed a man, whose face was covered in an American flag mask, before sounding secretly excited that he would probably be in tomorrow’s paper.
Above all, there was paranoia: The media and the FBI were out to get Trump supporters, those in attendance said.
“They’re trying to incite something, violence,” says 15-year-old Braxton Foley, referring to the assembled journalists. Then the self-proclaimed “paleocon” plugged in his podcast. “I have 5,000 subscribers, so…”
A woman who declined to give her full name noted that should Trump actually be arrested, “there are a lot of patriots in this country who won’t take kindly to that.” She stopped herself and said all protests would be peaceful.
A man in an “ATF” hat — a presumably right-wing internet troll out in the wild — told HuffPost he didn’t expect a Jan. 6-style response to Trump’s possible indictment. Prosecutions for the riot that day “distressed a lot of people,” he said. But, the man added, “I’d like to see what happens.”
Another man, who would not give his name, sat on a park bench and strummed a false-sounding guitar that read the words “HANG FAUCI AND GATES.”
When asked by HuffPost if he wanted to hang Fauci, he made a clarification.
“No. We want to torture him for three years first,” he said, adding later, “put his eyes out, let him live with one eye and, as it were, bleed.”
Dozens of journalists milled around, desperate for interviews, waiting for the New York Young Republican Club press conference. A reporter started asking someone questions before it became clear that they were also a reporter.
When Wax finally began his speech, he stressed that Trump supporters should peacefully protest the impending arrest of the former president. But he struck a very different note at a black-tie gala he hosted in Manhattan late last year.
“We want total war,” he said in December’s speech as he discussed the perceived enemies of the MAGA movement. “We must be ready to compete in any arena. In the media. In the courtroom. At the ballot box. And on the street.”
The crowd that evening included white nationalists and members of an Austrian political party formed by members of the Nazi Party during World War II, according to a Southern Poverty Law Center report. Also present was Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).
“This is the only language the left understands,” Wax said. “The language of pure and unadulterated power.”
Wax also has a history of supporting the Proud Boys, the violent neo-fascist gang whose leaders were charged with seditious conspiracy for their role in the January 6, 2021 Capitol bombing. He once attended a speech in Manhattan by Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, in which McInnes live-enacted the 1960 assassination of the Japanese Socialist Party leader, who was killed with a samurai sword by a far-right activist.
It was not clear how much of the assembled press knew about Wax’s history of extremism. Many were there to get footage for the evening news – which may have been rendered useless due to a man repeatedly interrupting Wax’s speech by yelling “Fuck you!” and “Fuck Trump!”
Earlier, surveying the crowd, Wax assured reporters crowding around him that Trump’s base was alive and well — just not today, and not in New York City.
“Anyone can joke about how many people are here, but we’re in lower Manhattan. I mean, this isn’t Tennessee, this isn’t Alabama,” he said. “Someone like Trump has no problem getting crowds.”