Five months ago, Donald Trump left New York City as a prominent businessman. He returns Thursday for the first time as president and hundreds of police officers and Secret Service agents are preparing for the visit, as are protesters, business owners and commuters.
Explosive sniffing dogs were outside Trump Tower Wednesday evening and barricades were going up in Midtown. It’s a $300,000 price tag for a day of security — though Congress has approved $61 million to reimburse New York’s security costs.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said the department wasn’t anticipating any major issues on Thursday but that “we’ll have to be flexible.”
Disruptions and road closures are certain, especially in Midtown, security expert and former Secret Service agent Chris Falkenberg said.
But Falkenberg, now the president of Insite Security, believes authorities have things under control. He said agents prepare for scheduled events, demonstrations and impromptu stops, especially when it’s the president.
“This is a well-run playbook,” he said. “It’s not only the man and the woman, it’s who that man and woman represents, as the head of government of the largest and most powerful country in the world.”
On Thursday evening, President Trump will hold an event aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea and meet with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. During that time several protests are planned, including one near the Intrepid and another across the street from Trump Tower.
In Brooklyn on Wednesday, residents opposed to the president were making signs to prepare for protests.
“I think it’s important that he hears all of our voices and we all stand united to fight him,” Will Sturdivant said.
The NYPD is gearing up for the visit with an eye toward those anti-Trump demonstrations. The turnout is uncertain, but activists are using Facebook and other social media to call on protesters to gather at several locations throughout the city to voice opposition to his immigration, health care and other policies.
Business owners and commuters in Midtown are bracing for a day of headaches and planning ahead.
At Printon 56, a lunch spot on West 56th Street in Midtown, Andrea Singer and her team are working to keep business moving Thursday, despite the barricades and street closures.
“We are expecting tomorrow there won’t be any walk-in traffic, but it’s okay, it’s only one day,” Singer said.
Singer says her business thrives on foot traffic and catering. With increased security, they have a plan to deliver.
“We have carts, we have about 60 carts,” Singer said. “We’ll load them up and we’ll make it happen.”
The president will not spend the night at Trump Tower, instead heading from the Intrepid to the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
That comes as good news to Singer.
“Totally thankful he’s leaving quickly and not staying for the weekend,” she said.