Last week, Donald Trump shared a baseless proclamation that he would be indicted Tuesday, March 21, over alleged hush money payments to adult entertainment star Stormy Daniels. That hasn’t happened, but hilarious artificial intelligence-generated images visualizing the former president’s fantasies of being dragged away by police in front of the cameras have been circulating on social media for the past few days. Initially posted by Eliot Higgins, the founder of international research collaborative Bellingcat, the theatrical renderings show Trump surrounded by officers attempting to detain and arrest him.

“Making pictures of Trump getting arrested while waiting for Trump’s arrest,” Higgins wrote in a tweet on Monday. He later clarified that he created the images using the AI platform Midjourney. The post went viral, with 4.9 million views as of this writing.

Trump had called for protests on his social media platform Truth Social on Saturday, March 18, alleging a leak from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. According to the Associated Press, the former president hoped to inspire outrage from his followers, writing, “PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST.” When Tuesday passed with news of subdued reactions from Trump’s base but no word of an arrest, some questioned whether the former President still could still mobilize supporters as he did before the January 6, 2021, US Capitol insurrection.

Some on Twitter have found humor in the historic moment: Trump is the first current or former US president to face criminal charges. Internet personality Hasan Piker, known as HasanAbi, dressed up for the occasion in a plum suit and gold tie on Tuesday, posting Higgins’s images next to a mirror selfie. User “Nick (@kra)” shared a popular TikTok video of a person miming potential suicide attempts, seemingly conveying collective frustration that the arrest never occurred.  

A tweet by @sup_demons (screenshot Valentina Di Liscia/Hyperallergic)

Despite the satiric tone online, according to an article by NBC’s local affiliate News 4, the New York Police Department heightened security measures, instructing all officers to be prepared for potential violence. The NYPD lined the perimeter of Trump Tower and the Manhattan Criminal Court with barricades Monday evening ahead of scheduled protests and have been monitoring social media. 

Taylor Michael is a former Hyperallergic staff reporter. Previously, she worked as a public programs coordinator at the National Book Foundation. She received an MFA from Columbia University School of...