This was despite the President’s team claiming they had given out tickets for all 19,000 seats at the centre in Oklahoma and also constructed an overflow stage. Plans for Trump and vice-president Mike Pence to address the overflow stage were cancelled after “protestors interfered with supporters” according to Trump’s campaign spokesman.
However critics suggested the low turnout, with photos showing the overflow area near empty before speeches were due to start, was a factor.
Hours before the rally was due to start Trump’s campaign admitted six of its members had tested positive for COVID-19.
Vice-president Pence opened the rally to cheers by stating: “Oklahoma and America need four more years of President Donald Trump in the White House!”
Protestors, many affiliated with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, gathered outside the centre.
Trump’s Tulsa rally was not packed out as expected
Empty seats at Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma
They accused the president of promoting bigotry and were involved in brief scuffles with Trump supporters.
Police also arrested a women wearing an ‘I can’t breathe’ T-shirt inside the venue after she refused to leave.
The slogan ‘I can’t breathe’ is associated with the BLM movement and was used by both Eric Garner in 2014 and George Floyd in 2020 shortly before they were killed by police.
Addressing his supporters Trump said: “Republicans are the party of liberty, equality and justice for all.
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Supporters of Donald Trump in Tulsa
“We are the Party of Abraham Lincoln and the party of law and order.
“The unhinged left-wing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments, tear down our statues, and punish, cancel, and persecute anyone who does not conform to their demands for absolute and total control. We’re not conforming!”
The president added anyone who burns an American flag should be sent to prison commenting: “We ought to come up with legislation that if you burn the American flag you go to jail for one year.
“I’m a big believer in freedom of speech, but that’s desecration.”
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President Trump addresses his supporters in Tulsa
Empty seats can clearly be seen behind Donald Trump at his Tulsa rally
Trump’s decision to launch his re-election bid in Tulsa caused controversy as the city was the site of one of the worst race massacres in American history in 1921.
The death toll is disputed but up to 250 people are believed to have died after white rioters attacked a wealthy black part of the city, dubbed ‘Black Wall Street’.
Originally the rally was due to take place on Friday but was postponed so as not to clash with Juneteenth, the anniversary of when America’s last black slaves were emancipated.
Security for the venue was provided by local police and the Oklahoma national guard.
A small group of armed men also gathered by the centre telling reporters they had come to protect the venue in case it was attacked by “antifa”.
Antifa, an acronym for “anti-fascist”, is associated with militant groups who seek out and in some cases attack those they deem to be far-right.
Trump has suggested it should be banned as a terrorist organisation, though as Antifa is not a centralised network is it unclear how this would work.
Anti-Trump protesters gathered outside the President’s Tulsa rally
America has been rocked by protests and unrests since George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed on May 25.
Demonstrations have also taken place in cities across the world including London, Paris and Berlin.
Trump will face Democrat nominee Joe Biden, currently the favourite, in his November re-election battle.
Published at Sun, 21 Jun 2020 01:57:00 +0000