After Weeks Of Anticipation, Trump Rally Crowd Underwhelms
President Donald Trump spoke at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to an enthusiastic - albeit smaller than expected - crowd of followers when some demonstrators gathered outside to call for an end to systemic racism and police brutality.
"You are a warrior, thank you. We had some very bad people out there, ”Trump told the crowd at the BOK Center, later describing the demonstrators as“ thugs ”.
The Tulsa event, the first Trump rally in months, took place against the advice of Trump's own coronavirus task force, which had asked White House officials to end the event because it was feared that it could spread the corona virus .
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, said in an interview earlier this month that major events of all kinds, including Trump's rally, continue to be "risky" and urged people to avoid such gatherings.
The Trump campaign warned potential rallyers that they would attend the event at their own risk. The rally registration page included a disclaimer that participants could not sue Trump or his campaign if they were infected with COVID-19.
On Saturday afternoon, the Trump campaign confirmed that at least six rally workers tested positive for the corona virus. The employees were immediately quarantined, the campaign said.
Trump did not mention the sick staff during his speech, but repeatedly downplayed the coronavirus threat and called it "Chinese virus" and "Kung flu".
At some point, Trump suggested slowing down the COVID-19 tests as more tests uncover more cases. (A White House official later told the Wall Street Journal that Trump was "clearly joking" about the slowdown in testing.)
"Testing is a double-edged sword," Trump told the crowd in Oklahoma. "Here's the bad part: if you test to this extent, you will find more people, you will find more cases."
"I said to my people," Please slow down the tests, "he said.
The rally participants received facewear when entering the venue, but many chose not to wear it, the Washington Post reported. Most of the National Guard police officers and soldiers who were there also decided not to cover their faces, according to the publication.
Joe Biden released a statement after the rally, responding to Trump's comments on COVID-19: "This virus killed nearly 120,000 Americans and cost tens of millions of their jobs, largely because this president is not mobilizing tests as quickly as we do could and wanted needed it. Hearing him say tonight that he has slowed testing - a transparent attempt to make the numbers look better - is appalling. "
President Trump on Corona Virus Tests: "I said to my people, please slow down the tests."
03:41 - June 21, 2020
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Trump's employees previously claimed that more than 1 million people wanted tickets to the main rally at the BOK Center. Actual turnout, however, fell short of expectations.
The President was originally supposed to speak in front of supporters the evening before entering the arena in front of the arena with a capacity of 19,000 people. But Trump's campaign canceled last-minute statements outdoors.
At the time of announcement of the cancellation, only a few dozen people were reportedly gathered in the overflow area outside the venue. Inside, the upper stands were empty, and there was plenty of space in the standing area in front of the stage.
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh blamed the demonstrators for the low turnout and said demonstrators blocked access to metal detectors, which prevented attendees from entering the venue.
"Radical demonstrators coupled with a relentless rush of the media tried to scare the president's followers," Murtaugh said.
Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale repeated a similar feeling.
Radical demonstrators, fueled by a week of apocalyptic media coverage, disturbed @realDonaldTrump's supporters at the rally.
They even blocked access to the metal detectors and prevented people from entering.
Many thanks to the 1000s who made it anyway!
20 / anti-trump protesters interference interference rally f /
Anti-Trump protesters "disturb" the president's r
The Trump campaign canceled scheduled outside speeches by President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at their comeback rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday evening after protesters
2:30 a.m. - June 21, 2020
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There were some minor clashes between Trump supporters and anti-Trump protesters outside the BOK center, but there were no major violent clashes ahead of the event.
The Black City leaders had asked people to stay away from Trump's event, the New York Times reported. Instead, hundreds of people gathered in Veterans Park, about a 30-minute walk away, to take part in the “Rally Against Hate”.
"Our biggest job was to make people feel safe tonight," rally organizer Tykebrean Cheshire told Post. "Visiting the BOK Center was not a safe option. I wanted to do the old school thing [Martin Luther King]. We can connect, and that's the most important thing today."
NOW HAPPEN: Hundreds of people gather in Veterans Park in downtown Tulsa for a rally against hate. The organizers say this is a peaceful protest against the oppression in the country. @ NewsOn6
02:29 - June 21, 2020
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Before the rally, there were concerns that violence might break out after Trump tweeted an apparently veiled threat to potential demonstrators.
"All protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters, or lowlifes who go to Oklahoma please understand that you are not being treated like you were in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis," the president tweeted on Friday. "It will be a completely different scene!"
Tulsa Mayor G.T. prepares for possible violence at the Trump event. Bynum passed an executive ordinance on Thursday declaring a civil emergency prior to the rally. Bynum said the city expected tens of thousands of people to flock near the event, including "people from organized groups who were involved in destructive and violent behavior in other countries" and who were planning to "travel to Tulsa for the purpose of" Cause unrest in and around the city. "
On Saturday afternoon, a peaceful protester in a T-shirt that said "I can't breathe" was arrested by the Tulsa police outside the BOK center at the behest of Trump's campaign staff. "I can't breathe" has become a rallying call for demonstrators who, after the death of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis who uttered these words, when a white policeman knelt on his neck, called for the end of racism and police brutality, which led to his death.
The protester - identified by the police as Sheila Buck from Tulsa - was accused of entering a secure area that was only accessible to ticket holders, although Buck said she had a ticket to the event. A video of the arrest shows officers grabbing Buck's armpits and pulling them away.
Trump lambasted protesters and called them "thugs" and "bad people," but did not respond to their calls to end the racist injustice or police brutality after Floyd's death.
The President spoke for over an hour and a half, but did not mention Floyd's name at all. He also didn't mention Juneteenth, who fell on Friday and commemorates the end of slavery in America.
Trump had previously been criticized for planning the Tulsa rally on June 19. He postponed the rally a day after facing a backlash.
Towards the end of his speech, Trump only said that he "had done more for the black community in four years than Joe Biden in 47 years," referring to the former vice president and the alleged democratic candidate for president.
"Racial justice begins with Joe Biden's retirement from public life," Trump said.
The President spent approximately 10 minutes of his speech defending his clumsy ramped path after a speech at West Point last week.
"It was like an ice rink," Trump said over the ramp.
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Reply to @atrupar
"I said, 'General, there is no way I can make it over this ramp without falling on my ass, General. I have no railing.' It's true! ... I didn't really want to grab him ... I can't fall for the bogus news "- Trump is still whining about reporting on his ramp incident
Here's Trump making fun of the way he went down a ramp at West Point last weekend. He's been talking about it for about 6 or 7 minutes now.
3:50 a.m. - June 21, 2020
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Police arrest peaceful protester who is sitting alone at the Trump meeting venue
6 employees work on Trump's Tulsa rally test for COVID-19
Twin Trump 'Bunker Baby' balloons make the scene before the Tulsa Rally
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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