Civil rights leaders are reacting to the criminal indictment of Donald Trump by seemingly uniting behind one message to the former president as well as to the American people: No one is above the law.
And it appears as though Trump will finally be held accountable in a case that began in 2016, well before current Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Black man, inherited the investigation into hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, a campaign finance violation. Bragg’s office empaneled the grand jury that on Thursday afternoon returned an indictment against a man who famously called himself a “law and order president.”
Trump’s lawyer told USA Today that the former president would surrender in New York City on Friday before he is arrested and charged, although the exact criminal charges were not immediately clear because the grand jury proceedings are secret and its findings are sealed.
In the meantime, civil rights leaders are suggesting with cautious optimism that Trump’s indictment and eventual criminal prosecution in New York, his hometown, is the result of a fine blend of karma and outstanding lawyering by the district attorney.
Rev. Al Sharpton addressed Trump’s indictment by pointing to the past to look to the future.
“It’s not lost on those of us who were there in 1989 that Donald Trump will likely walk into the same courthouse where the Exonerated 5 were falsely convicted for a crime they did not commit,” Sharpton, President and Founder of the National Action Network, said in a statement emailed to NewsOne. “Let’s not forget that it was Donald Trump who took out full-page ads calling for these five Black and Brown young men to get the death penalty. This is the same man who’s now calling for violence when he has to go through the criminal justice system. The same man will have to stand up in a courtroom and see firsthand what the criminal justice system is like. All I can say is, what goes around comes around.”
Rashad Robinson, President of the Color Of Change racial justice organization, credited Bragg and his office for setting what could be a precedent moving forward.
“In this historic moment, Color Of Change applauds New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who refused to let corporate influence, racist right-wing attacks, and threats of violence interfere with holding the former president accountable. This is the kind of political courage we need from every district attorney in the country,” Robinson said in a statement.
He also noted how the indictments were returned despite threats of violence and “racist dog whistles” in an effort “to stop the justice system from moving forward.”
It was in that context that Robinson said “this indictment is a step in the right direction toward ensuring that no one should be above the law, no matter how much money, power or access they have.”
Free Speech For People, a nonprofit organization whose stated mission is to defend the Constitution and protect democracy, called the indictment “an important first step” in holding Trump accountable.
John Bonifaz, president of Free Speech For People, emphasized that state officials should use the indictment to ensure Trump can no longer seek public office and appealed for them to “do their job” to make that happen.
“The Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause of the 14th Amendment makes clear that Trump is disqualified from holding any future public office based on his role in inciting and mobilizing the January 6 insurrection,” Bonifaz said in a statement emailed to NewsOne. “No prior indictment or conviction is required in order to enforce Section 3 of the 14th Amendment against Trump. To protect our republic, we must uphold this critical constitutional provision at this moment in history.”
Notably, Trump is still a candidate for president in 2024.
This is America.
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