Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa on Saturday is good to go after the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a legal challenge trying to stop it and the mayor rescinded his curfew order so the president’s MAGA supporters could camp out ahead of the big event.
The court also ruled the masks and social distancing are not required as Oklahoma’s June 1 reopening plan allowed business owners to use discretion on those matters.
The ruling came after a group of local residents and business owners asked for a temporary injunction against the rally, citing fears it could worsen the spread of the coroanavirus. The court rejected that argument, paving the way for the Trump rally to go forward as scheduled.
President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa is good to go after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled it can continue as planned
Supporters had been lined up and camped out in front of the BOK Center ahead of Saturday night’s event, but were going to have to go home under a 10 p.m. curfew instituted by G.T. Bynum, the Republican mayor of Tulsa.
They are now free to stay. Bynum rescinded the curfew, saying in a statement it was done at the request of the Secret Service.
‘On Thursday, the Secret Service asked the City of Tulsa and the Tulsa Police Department to put in place a curfew for the Federal Exclusion Zone near the BOK Center,’ the city said in a statement. ‘Today, the Secret Service asked the City to lift the curfew order this weekend. In compliance with this request, the City has rescinded the order.’
Trump said in a tweet the mayor informed him of the decision.
‘I just spoke to the highly respected Mayor of Tulsa, G.T. Bynum, who informed me there will be no curfew tonight or tomorrow for our many supporters attending the #MAGA Rally. Enjoy yourselves – thank you to Mayor Bynum!,’ Trump wrote.
Trump also bragged on Twitter Friday: ‘Big crowds and lines already forming in Tulsa. My campaign hasn’t started yet. It starts on Saturday night in Oklahoma!’
His campaign actually kicked off in Florida last year but this will be the first rally since March when the coronavirus pandemic shut down large gatherings.
Trump got tough on Friday, promising ‘agitators’ and ‘lowlifes’ at his Tulsa rally will get harsh treatment as the city declared a ‘civil emergency’ out of fears of ‘extremely violent’ protests.
‘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!,’ President Trump wrote on Twitter.
The president didn’t specify how it would be different and how he knew that would happen but he had criticized officials in New York, Seattle, and Minneapolis for not using the National Guard or other means to quell the Black Lives Matter protests that sprung up in the wake of George Floyd’s death. His tweet came on Juneteenth, the date that celebrates the end of slavery.
Protesters have already gathered outside the rally site. Above, Nicholas Winford (left) debates Trump supporter Randall Thom (right), on Trump’s racial policies
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president didn’t mean peaceful protesters but ‘violent’ ones.
‘He was meaning violent protesters, anarchist, looters on the kind of lawlessness that we saw play out before President Trump came in with the National Guard and calm their streets with law and order,’ she said at her press briefing on Friday.
Trump himself came under fire after law enforcement officials used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear the area around the White House of protesters to the president could walk over to St. John’s church for a photo-op holding the bible.
And Oklahoma will activate 250 Oklahoma Army National Guard soldiers to help provide security during President Trump’s rally, a Tulsa TV station reported.
The president’s vow came after Tulsa’s mayor had declared a ‘civil emergency.’
In his original order, Mayor Bynum cited recent ‘civil unrest’ and the expectation that more than 100,000 people – a combination of Trump supporters and protesters – will swarm the downtown area as the reason for his ‘civil emergency’ declaration.
It’s the latest hurdle for Trump as he attempts to return to the campaign trail. Additionally, the operators of the BOK Center asked the campaign for a ‘written plan’ on how they will deal with the threat of the coronavirus.
‘I have received information from the Tulsa Police Department and other law enforcement agencies that shows that individuals from organized groups who have been involved in destructive and violent behavior in other States are planning to travel to the city of Tulsa for purposes of causing unrest in and around the rally,’ Bynum wrote in the executive order.
These ‘groups in other states have engaged in extremely violent and destructive behaviour, including arson and malicious injury to both public and private property,’ he noted.
Trump’s rally – his first since March – has been deeply problematic ever since it was announced on June 10.
The original date of Friday, June 19, was switched to Saturday after an uproar about the clash with Juneteenth – the annual celebration marking the end of slavery.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled on Friday that rally attendees can decide for themselves on whether or not to wear a mask
The mayor’s executive order also establishes a 10 pm curfew but he later rescinded it, which he said was at the request of the Secret Service
Additionally the state of Oklahoma and the city of Tulsa have seen an increase in coronavirus infections since the reopening process began. Oklahoma is in phase three of its reopening – one of the few states that far along in the process. That was one of the reasons the Trump campaign tapped Tulsa for the rally location.
On Thursday the BOK Center, the 19,000-seat arena where Saturday’s rally will be held, sent the Trump campaign a letter asking for a written plan identifying ‘the steps the event will institute for health and safety.’
‘We have requested the Trump campaign, as the event organizer, provide BOK Center with a written plan detailing the steps the event will institute for health and safety, including those related to social distancing,’ officials said.
The BOK center said its employees will be tested for the coronavirus and provided with personal protective equipment. The arena ‘will be cleaned and disinfected repeatedly throughout the event’ and 400 hand sanitizer stations will be placed around it.
The Trump campaign has said precautionary measures will be taken, including temperature checks and providing attendees with masks and hand sanitizer. The campaign, however, said they would not require the masks to be worn.
The BOK center is encouraging masks to be worn and, on Friday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court will rule on the issue.
A group of Tulsa attorneys requested a hearing to impose a temporary, emergency injunction stopping the rally this week, but a Tulsa judge denied the effort on Tuesday.
The matter was appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which will rule Friday on whether attendees must follow CDC guidelines on social distancing and wearing face masks.
Trump supporters sleep around the BOK Center as they wait in line for Saturday’s rally – they would have had to leave but the mayor rescinded his curfew order
President Trump’s campaign rally on Saturday is his first since March and he tweeted in praise of the supporters lined up to get inside
Trump supporters have been lined up and camped out as the arena only holds 19,000 people and the president claimed more than one million requested tickets
Memorabilia on a barricade that supporters put up for President Donald Trump outside the BOK Center in Tulsa
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican, seen at the White House with President Trump on Thursday said the state was ready for the rally and ‘it’s going to be safe’
Oklahoma set a new state record for COVID-19 increases in a single day on Thursday, confirming 450 new infections.
But Governor Kevin Stitt dismissed concerns during an event with President Trump at the White House on Thursday.
‘We’re 56 days into our reopening plan, and currently we have under 200 people in the hospital across the state of Oklahoma. And we had an uptick in the number of cases, and so the media tries to talk about that. But we knew we were going to have an increase a little bit, because we’re 56 days into reopening,’ Stitt, a Republican said.
‘Oklahoma is ready for your visit. It’s going to be safe. And we’re really, really excited,’ he told the president.
The Trump campaign said it was reviewing the letter from the BOK center, adding ‘we take safety seriously, which is why we’re doing temperature checks for everyone attending, and providing masks and hand sanitizer.’
The campaign has already asked attendees to acknowledge the risk of exposure to COVID-19 at the rally and agree not to sue the campaign or the venue if they fall ill. Mayor Bynum said the city also has been indemnified from the risk of any lawsuits.
On Wednesday, the city’s top health official, Bruce Dart, said he was worried the rally could become a ‘super spreader’ event and recommended it be postponed.
He warned attendees they face ‘an increased risk’ of contracting the coronavirus.
‘So many people are over COVID but COVID is not over,’ Dart said. He also asked people wear masks when out at events on Saturday.
‘People coming together without taking precautions is what causes the virus to transmit,’ Dart said.
Dart admitted he’d like to see the rally postponed but, since it wasn’t going to be, then officials would deal with the fallout.
‘I recommended we postpone it until it’s safer,’ he said. ‘If we could push it back to when the data tells it’s safer, that was my personal recommendation, that is what I’d personally like to see happen. It’s here so let’s focus on staying safe while it’s here.’
Mayor Bynum expressed confidence that the city could handle any illness that resulted from the gathering.
He said local hospitals have plenty of protective equipment on hand and pointed out of the 120 beds dedicated to coronavirus patients, only three were occupied as of Wednesday.
Coronavirus cases across the U.S. on June 18. Texas, Florida and California are of concern
G.T. Bynum, the mayor of Tulsa, issued an executive order declaring a ‘civil emergency’
Coronavirus cases in the U.S. as of June 18. More than 2.1m people are known to be infected
The Oklahoma Department of Health has urged senior citizens and other vulnerable individuals to ‘stay home’ ahead of the president’s rally and watch a livestream of the event instead.
Commissioner Lance Frye said those looking to attend the president’s rally ‘will face an increased risk of becoming infected with COVID-19.’
The department has tripled its contact tracing team ahead of the rally, and Dr Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, when asked if he would attend replied: ‘Of course not.’
Even Bynum admitted he wished it was not happening.
‘I would love for some other city to have tried this first,’ he said at a press conference Wednesday.
‘But the president chose this city, and so it falls on us to set that standard moving forward.’
The anger at the date – which takes place on the holiday celebrating the end of slavery – meant that the rally got off to a bad start. Critics pointed to the Trump’s administration handling of protests that sprung up around the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Tulsa was the site of one of the country’s bloodiest outbreaks of racist violence in 1921. Called the Tulsa Race Massacre, as many as 300 people were killed, more than 10,000 remained homeless, and, according to the Tulsa Race Riot Report of 2001, an estimated $1,470,711 was incurred in damage – equal to about $20 million today.
Trump has show some insensitivity on race relations. He also bragged he made ‘Juneteenth very famous’ in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. He also admitted he learned about it from a black Secret Service agent and was surprised to hear the White House had put out a statement on the holiday last year.
‘I made it famous. I made Juneteenth very famous,’ he told the newspaper. ‘It’s actually an important event, it’s an important time. But nobody had heard of it. Very few people have heard of it. Actually, a young African-American Secret Service agent knew what it was. I had political people who had no idea.’
Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager, chose the site and the date, The New York Times reported.
Oklahoma also was chosen for its Republican support – Trump carried the state by 36 points in the 2016 election. Additionally Tulsa has a Republican mayor. Most cities in the country are run by Democrats.
Yet Trump and his aides failed to grasp the significance of holding a rally on Juneteenth.
Nor did they appear to realize that Tulsa was the site of one of the country’s bloodiest outbreaks of racist violence, after a white mob killed attacked the affluent black community in 1921.
Trump supporters camp out near the BOK Center on Thursday, ahead of Saturday’s rally
Fans of the president have been arriving at the site of his first campaign rally since March
Lines of people wait for the doors to open on Saturday for the Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma
‘Think about it as a celebration,’ Trump said in an interview with Fox News, when asked if the date was intentional. ‘My rally is a celebration.’ Pictured is Tulsa during the 1921 onslaught
Trump announced that he was changing the date of his Tulsa rally, scheduled for Juneteenth
The rally in Oklahoma will now be held on Saturday, instead of the Friday night as planned
‘Think about it as a celebration,’ Trump said in an interview with Fox News shortly after the rally was announced, when asked if the date was intentional.
‘My rally is a celebration.’
About 30 hours later, he changed the date to Saturday.
The error, however, is said to have refocused attention on how few African-American aides work on Trump’s campaign or in the White House.
‘They’re stinging from it, they’re reeling from it,’ former Representative J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, who was the first black Republican elected to Congress from south of the Mason-Dixon Line since Reconstruction, told The Times.
‘Juneteenth was on the schedule before any rally was. People are reeling from it.’