A grandmother from Iowa whose viral TikTok video encouraged thousands of young people to sign up for Donald Trump’s Tulsa rally on Friday night and then not attend has said the ‘no show protest’ was not a prank, but rather a powerful moment of protest.
Mary Jo Laupp, 51, from Fort Dodge, Iowa, said that she never intended to go viral with her video, which she posted on June 11.
In the video she criticized Trump’s original plan to hold the rally on Juneteeth – a day which marks the end of slavery in the United States. Amid the outcry he switched the rally to June 20.
Her video encouraged young people to sign up, giving a false anticipation of a massive turnout, and then stand the president up.
Donald Trump’s campaign said a million people had requested tickets, but only 6,200 showed
Mary Jo Laupp unintentionally started a campaign to RSVP to the rally, then not show up
‘I don’t think it was just an issue of pranking him,’ she said.
‘You have a lot of kids, in the younger generation – 20-year-olds and teens – who are very aware, much more self aware when it comes to Black culture.
‘So yes, they are treating it now like it was a prank, but a lot of the messages I got from parents and from kids is: I never knew this much about Black Wall Street. This is so sad. So they are excited about the impact it had.
‘But I think they are becoming much more aware of those marginalized communities, and learning to speak out about them.’
Laupp’s video was viewed more than 2 million times and has so far received over 700,000 ‘likes.’
It is hard to know precisely how many times the video was shared, given that it could be downloaded and disseminated on other platforms. Fans of Korean pop music distributed the video on Twitter.
In the video, after explaining to viewers that Trump was holding a rally in Tulsa on June 19, Laupp said: ‘If you don’t know why that’s a big deal, I want you to Google two phrases: Juneteenth and Black Wall Street.’
Laupp, from Iowa, says the impact of the video was a powerful sense of community
She explained: ‘I had educated myself on Black Wall Street, and understood better why Black content creators on social media platforms were frustrated with the original plan for Juneteenth in Tulsa, and I posted a video late Thursday night, the 11th, that was sort of a frustrated rant.
‘I had 1,000 followers on TikTok at that point. Most of my videos were seen a couple of hundred times, maybe.
‘By 7 o’clock the next morning it had been seen hundreds of times, shared hundreds of times, and then the K-Pop fans jumped on from Twitter, and when they get involved you know it’s getting serious.’
She said it was impossible to know how big an impact her video had.
The Trump campaign said they had received more than a million requests for tickets for the 19,000-seater arena, and organized an overflow section outside.
In the end 6,200 people were inside the arena, the Tulsa fire marshals said, and no one was outside.
The New York Times reported that Trump was furious at the empty stadium.
The Trump campaign dismissed the idea that they were ‘had’.
‘Trolls thinking they hacked rally tix don’t know how this works,’ tweeted Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for Trump’s campaign.
‘Lame trick tried many times. We weed out bogus RSVPs with fake phone #s.’
He insisted the ‘real factor was media-stoked fear.’
But Laupp said the impact of her TikTok had been remarkable.
She said she had had a lot of teenagers get in touch, and ask her as an adult how to speak to their parents and explain their views.
She described it as a ‘powerful’ media.
‘I had no intention of going viral, so be careful what you post, because you never know!’ she said.
‘But I also think it has definitely created a huge sense of community. There are a lot of posts all over my social media saying: we did it.
‘And kids who aren’t even old enough to vote in this election feel that they have a voice in our country, and this no-show protest was a way of making our voices heard.’