Tulsa prepares for controversial Trump rally on Juneteenth

20 June 2020, 08:56

President Trump will be hosting a rally in Tulsa
President Trump will be hosting a rally in Tulsa. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Donald Trump will resume his election campaign tonight with a huge rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on the same day as Juneteenth.

The rally in Tulsa will be Trump's first large-scale event since March, and is widely believed to mark Trump's return to the Presidential election campaign ahead.

Local authorities are expecting protesters to attend the event, and earlier ordered a curfew on the area in an attempt to avoid any clashes.

However, the curfew was later rescinded.

Trump suspended his early campaign rallies for the November election in April due to the coronavirus outbreak.

But tweeting about tonight's rally, he said: "Big crowds and lines already forming in Tulsa. My campaign hasn't started yet. It starts on Saturday night in Oklahoma!"

However, the decision to host the rally has proved controversial, with Oklahoma still experiencing a daily upward trend in coronavirus cases.

As of Friday, there have been at least 9,706 cases of coronavirus in the state and 367 deaths.

However, governor Republican Kevin Stitt said on the visit: "Oklahoma is one of the first states that has safely and measurably reopened".

"Oklahoma is ready for your visit, it's going to be safe and everyone's really really excited."

Governor Kevin Stitt said everyone is "really really excited"
Governor Kevin Stitt said everyone is "really really excited". Picture: PA

Organisers have said that 10,000 people will be permitted to enter. the stadium, which has a capacity of 19,000.

Temperature checks will also be made on entry.

Sanitiser and face masks will be on offer but they will not be compulsory.

However, for many in the state, the controversial rally coincides with the marking of Juneteenth - the day the last slaves in America realised they were free.

Many are furious that the president chose to host the rally over this weekend.

The insult was compounded when the President claimed that "no one has ever heard of Juneteenth".

There have been Juneteenth rallies across Tulsa
There have been Juneteenth rallies across Tulsa. Picture: PA

On Friday, Donald Trump appeared to threaten protesters who turn up to his rally in Tulsa with a "much different scene" than other cities which have seen demonstrations.

He tweeted: "Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis. It will be a much different scene!"

Although vague, the references to those cities - which have seen heavy handed tactics used by police and security forces - seems to imply police will be responding more harshly.

It potentially posed a challenge to attendees of Trump's rally, many oh whom have been queuing for days to be in the audience.

A statement on the city's website says the US Secret Service had asked for the curfew near the BOK Centre, where President Trump is to hold the rally on Saturday night, then on Friday asked that the curfew be lifted.

"I enacted a curfew at the request of Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin, following consultation with the United States Secret Service based on intelligence they had received," Republican Mayor GT Bynum said in a statement.

He added: "Today, we were told the curfew is no longer necessary so I am rescinding it."

It also comes after Trump came under worldwide condemnation for using tear gas and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park so he could walk to a nearby church for a photo shoot.

Despite Trump's insistence he is the "law and order President", many cities in the US have descended into riots and mass protests in the past month.

Protests have raged in the US and spilled into the wider world following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on is neck in Minneapolis.

He has also been accused of fanning the flames of racial tensions in the US, with Twitter even censoring one of his tweets as it "glorified violence".