Donald Trump’s supporters faced protesters shouting “Black Lives Matter” on 20 June in Oklahoma as the president took the stage for his first campaign rally in months.
Demonstrators flooded Tulsa’s streets and blocked traffic at times.
Many of the marchers chanted but faced Trump supporters, who outnumbered them and yelled “All lives matter”. Ahead of the rally, Trump threatened protesters:
— Laura C. (@tinwoman49) June 19, 2020
Later in the evening, a group of armed men began following the protesters. When the protesters blocked a junction, a man wearing a Trump shirt got out of a truck and spattered them with pepper spray. Reports on social media showed police arresting peaceful protesters:
A peaceful protester wearing an "I Can't Breathe" shirt was just arrested outside of Trump's rally in Tulsa pic.twitter.com/KJ5n54T2nr
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) June 20, 2020
When demonstrators approached a National Guard bus that got separated from its caravan, Tulsa police officers fired pepper balls to push back the crowd, said Tulsa police spokesman captain Richard Meulenberg.
Officers soon left the area as it cleared.
Trump’s supporters gathered inside the 19,000-seat BOK Centre for what was believed to be the largest indoor event in the country since restrictions to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus began in March.
Many of the president’s supporters were not wearing masks, despite the recommendation of public health officials. Some had been camped near the venue since early in the week.
Turnout at the rally was lower than the campaign predicted, with a large swathe of standing room on the stadium floor and empty seats in the balconies.
We’d like to clarify some of the text in our below tweet. At the time of tweeting, we thought the arena was half-empty. New information tells us that the arena was in fact over 2/3 empty. That’s right. Over 2/3 empty. In Tulsa. In a red state. For a free event with the President. https://t.co/lrf5bbfj7A
— MeidasTouch.com (@MeidasTouch) June 21, 2020
Trump's team claimed 1m ticket applications for his big rally in Tulsa.
Less than 7000 attended. pic.twitter.com/6OInkjYlHt
— Russ (@RussInCheshire) June 21, 2020
Trump had been scheduled to appear at a rally outside of the stadium within a perimeter of tall metal barriers but that event was abruptly cancelled.
Trump campaign officials said protesters prevented the president’s supporters from entering the stadium. However, three Associated Press journalists reporting in Tulsa for several hours leading up to the president’s speaking did not see protesters block entry to the area where the rally was held.
While Trump spoke onstage, protesters carried a papier-mache representation of him with a pig snout. Some in the multi-racial group wore Black Lives Matter shirts others sported rainbow-coloured armbands, and many covered their mouths and noses with masks.
Trump drew wide criticism for his choice and venue for the rally. 19 June is called Juneteenth, a hugely significant day that marks the move to ending slavery in the US. In 1921, white supremacists destroyed Tulsa and murdered as many as 300 Black people.
Trump’s rally in Tulsa on the weekend of Juneteenth proves what we already knew: he’s the largest superspreader of division and hatred we’ve seen in generations. pic.twitter.com/LuNKjfK0pB
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) June 17, 2020
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