Donald Trump Isn’t the First President to Be Arrested

Upon turning himself into Atlanta’s Fulton County Jail, former President Donald Trump will become the second person in U.S. history to serve as president and be arrested.

Trump was booked on August 24 on more than a dozen charges stemming from his efforts to reverse Georgia’s 2020 election results. Specifically, Trump asked former Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger during a phone call to help him secure over 11,000 votes, the amount in which he trailed Joe Biden in Georgia. During a recorded call that took place on January 2, 2021, Trump told Raffensperger: “All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”

It is the fourth time this year the former president has faced criminal charges. Many of his 18 co-defendants, including former New York Mayor Rudi Giuliana, turned themselves into the jail well before Trump would arrive for booking at 8:30 p.m. EST on August 24. His bond was set at $200,000, and he agreed to a host of release conditions after posting bond. One of the conditions of his release after bonding is that he can’t use social media to target his co-defendants or witnesses in the case.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, the Black woman who brought the racketeering case last week following a yearslong investigation, has asked for Trump and his 18 co-defendants to be arraigned in September and for the judge to set a trial date of March 4, 2024, for the RICO indictments against Trump and his 18 co-defendants.

As a Black woman, she’s stood tall in this historic indictment and arrest, facing racism, sexism, and threats of physical violence against her life, mostly from white extremist groups and domestic terrorists. Trump himself even accused Willis of an improper relationship with a member of the YSL organization that is also being tried in Fulton County.

Despite many of the elements of Trump’s indictment being unprecedented in U.S. history, his arrest isn’t the first one by a former or sitting president, and, coincidentally, it was another Black person who was responsible for the only other president being arrested.

The year was 1872, and President Ulysses S. Grant found himself caught on the wrong side of the law by William H. West, a young former slave and Civil War veteran who joined the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) a year prior.

West came across Grant while on patrol near 13th and M streets NW in Washington, D.C. He stopped the president for speeding in his horse and buggy and gave him a warning for excessive speed. The next day, West saw the president repeating his behavior and arrested him.

While arresting Grant, West – one of only two Black police officers in the MPD at the end of the Civil War – said: “I am very sorry, Mr. President, to have to do it, for you are the chief of the nation and I am nothing but a policeman, but duty is duty, sir, and I will have to place you under arrest.”

Records indicate that Grant told West to uphold his duties as a police officer, and he complied with the arrest. President Grant was taken to the police station and released on a $20 bond. There, he did not contest the fine or the arrest.

This was not Grant’s first citation for speeding in the District of Columbia. According to former chief Cathy Lanier, Ulysses S. Grant received three citations for speeding in his horse-drawn carriage during his tenure as president.

Much like Willis, West made it a point to show the president that no one is above the law. But Grant himself said he knew the penalties of his actions and that he deserved to be arrested. As for Trump, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable evidence, he has concluded that he should not face the legal system for his miscarriages of justice. Still, Willis has been steadfast in her commitment to upholding the law, even when it means indicting the man who once held the highest office in the land.

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