By Tim Darnell and Doug Reardon
ATLANTA, Georgia (WANF) — A series of downtown Atlanta road closures were announced Thursday afternoon ahead of what are widely expected to be charges coming from the Fulton County district attorney’s office investigation into former President Donald Trump.
According to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, Pryor Street between MLK Drive and Mitchell Street will be closed to general traffic, beginning Aug. 7, at 5 a.m., through Aug. 18. The two right lanes of Pryor Street between MLK and Mitchell will be parking for media, designated by bike racks.
“The courthouse and Fulton County Government Center will still be open to the public, so pedestrian traffic is allowed on Pryor Street,” according to a sheriff’s department statement. “There will be no public parking allowed anywhere on the perimeter of the courthouse on either side of the street. Vehicle traffic will be allowed on Central, MLK, and Mitchell.”
Fulton County Sheriff’s Office Spokesperson Natalie Ammons said courthouse and resident safety are priorities.
“There are thousands of people that come through this area and this footprint and that is the main goal, to keep everyone safe,” Ammons said. “People still have business to conduct with Fulton County, so we want to make it as safe as possible but still accessible to the public.”
Atlanta News First asked how prepared law enforcement is for any large crowds or unrest that could happen.
“We are ready,” Ammons said.
Georgia State Patrol (GSP) confirmed they’re also on standby in the event of protests.
“We are working with local agencies, monitoring all intelligence, and will act appropriately. We are a support agency. If they call, we are coming,” said Cpt. Michael Burns with GSP.
Between the second and third weeks of August, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected to announce a series of charges stemming from her office’s two-year investigation into alleged attempts by Trump to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election.
Also on Thursday, the nation’s 45th president surrendered himself to federal authorities in Washington, D.C,., on charges that he attempted to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election.
The early front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination was processed by law enforcement and entered a not guilty plea before a federal magistrate. He was then released and returned to his campaign trail as he seeks to reclaim the White House in 2024.
It’s the third criminal case filed against Trump this year, but the first to try to hold him criminally responsible for his efforts to cling to power in the weeks between his election loss and the Capitol attack that stunned the world as it unfolded live on TV. Trump has said he did nothing wrong and has accused special counsel Jack Smith of trying to thwart his chances of returning to the White House in 2024.
A special grand jury with subpoena power was seated in May 2022. In court filings, she alleged “a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere,” a contest that eventually saw Joe Biden become the first Democrat to win Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992.
Trump had zeroed in on the county after he lost Georgia by a slim margin in the November 2020 general election. In phone calls to state election officials and in public comments, Trump made claims of widespread election fraud in Fulton.
Actions he took as he tried to overturn his election loss, including a phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, led Willis to open an ongoing investigation into whether Trump and others illegally meddled in the state’s election.
In a late April letter, Willis warned Labat of “charging decisions” coming this summer in connection with her investigation. In that same letter, she notified Fulton County deputies she will announce charges from her investigation sometime between July 11 and Sept. 1.
On May 2, Willis said she is planning to make a “historical decision” this summer regarding her investigation. Later that month, she sent a letter to the Fulton County Superior Court, in which the DA notified Glanville her office plans to work remotely during the first three weeks of August and asking no trials be scheduled during that time.
“If an indictment came today, we would be ready,” Labat said Tuesday. “We look forward to an opportunity to show the world that we are ready.”
Fulton County law enforcement officials also were present in New York City and Miami when Trump’s other indictments were announced.
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