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The scene outside the Miami courthouse where Trump appeared

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

It's been an historic afternoon. As we've been reporting, former President Donald Trump turned himself in to federal authorities in Miami. He pleaded not guilty to 37 charges. Prosecutors say he took classified information with him after leaving office and obstructed efforts to recover them. This is the first time a former president has been indicted on federal charges. Thousands of people gathered outside the federal courthouse, and that's where NPR's Greg Allen is also. Hi, Greg.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Before we discuss that scene outside, tell us what happened inside the courtroom today.

ALLEN: Well, you know, this is a federal court. There's no video cameras, and laptops and cellphones were not even allowed inside today for media, which does happen in some cases. In the courtroom, there were seats for about two dozen journalists, but there was a big overflow room for members of the public and other reporters. And President Trump pleaded not guilty to each of the 37 federal charges related to his retention of classified information after leaving office. It was a quick court hearing, less than an hour.

SHAPIRO: And while that was happening, what was going on outside the court where you are?

ALLEN: Well, it's definitely been a chaotic scene here all day long. Trump supporters have arrived throughout the day. Among them was Luis Medina, who said he was from Miami. He said he felt the charges against the former president are unfair.

LUIS MEDINA: Well, you got to realize this. Today the U.S. Constitution is on trial because that's a citizen, Donald Trump - no longer president. And if that happens to you and I, how can we defend ourselves?

ALLEN: You know, it was a difficult to get a number of how many people were here. But as the president left the court - because they're all scattered through the crowd. As the president left the courthouse, where they gathered outside and where his motorcade was leaving from and - it was quite a scene. I'd say there was well over a thousand people there, maybe in the low thousands.

SHAPIRO: And was it relatively peaceful - any signs of tension or violence?

ALLEN: Well, yeah, you know, not really. It was generally peaceful. It's really been just something like a carnival atmosphere all day long with vendors here selling Trump T-shirts and hats. At one point, mayor of - the mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez, came by to assess the scene. Here's what he said.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FRANCIS SUAREZ: We are managing the situation very well right now. There haven't been any incidents, and we obviously have a very large force. And we have contingency plans to grow if there's any issues.

ALLEN: You know, this is a real volatile crowd here, though. And Mayor Suarez - although he's a Republican, he's been talking about entering the presidential race. And as he was talking to the media and talking to the crowd, Trump supporters started chanting, RINO, shame on you, you know, for Republican in name only. So he was not popular with the Trump supporters here today.

SHAPIRO: There were also some incendiary posts on social media, some of them calling for violence. Were police concerned?

ALLEN: Well, you know, yesterday Miami's police chief said he'd seen the posts and didn't consider them credible. And I think, you know, the way things turned out shows that he was correct in that case. Former Arizona Republican candidate for governor Kari Lake was one of those who seemed to be talking about violence in her social media and in her speeches. She was here today but didn't address the crowd. You know, there was really just a small smattering of anti-Trump protesters here, but that did lead to some heated exchanges. In one case that seemed to be moving toward violence, police stepped in, and they separated the parties. And that was about it in terms of what I saw today in terms of the threat of violence.

SHAPIRO: And what could you tell about who came out for this, why so many people came out? Like, what was their motivation?

ALLEN: Well, you know, the crowd here really was a South Florida crowd. Almost every Trump supporter I and fellow reporter Peter Haden talked to today said they're from, you know, Miami or suburbs of Miami. And we heard a lot of chanting on loudspeakers and in crowds in English and in Spanish. Trump, of course, over his term as president, gained a lot of support from the Cuban American community here in South Florida. And many people have been falsely accusing - today we heard many people accusing Joe Biden falsely of being a communist. Trump himself has even picked up on that rhetoric, using the - saying the U.S. is on the verge of becoming a communist country. So it's really resonating. I think some of his talk and his - and being under fire here by the justice system, I think, people here are really rallying around.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Greg Allen outside the federal courthouse in Miami, where former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to the 37 counts against him. Thanks, Greg.

ALLEN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

As NPR's Miami correspondent, Greg Allen reports on the diverse issues and developments tied to the Southeast. He covers everything from breaking news to economic and political stories to arts and environmental stories. He moved into this role in 2006, after four years as NPR's Midwest correspondent.

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