Tulsa City-Council Health Department Director Bruce Dart (pictured) urged Donald Trump to postpone his Saturday rally there until coronavirus threat subsides
The caution from Dart comes as Tulsa and Oklahoma have seen a spike in cases of coronavirus, seeing 82 new cases in the city from Saturday to Sunday
The top health official in Tulsa, Oklahoma cautioned Saturday that Donald Trump’s campaign rally there next weekend could be dangerous for attendees as he urges the president to postpone as the state sees a resurgence of coronavirus.
Tulsa City-Council Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart told Tulsa World that the massive gathering could even be dangerous to the president himself as the city sees a ‘significant increase in our case trends.’
‘I think it’s an honor for Tulsa to have a sitting president want to come and visit our community, but not during a pandemic,’ Dart said in his interview Saturday.
‘I’m concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event, and I’m also concerned about our ability to ensure the president stays safe as well,’ he continued.
As Dart pushes for a delay for the comeback rally, White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow also admitted that if people attend the president’s campaign event they should wear masks.
‘It is a concern,’ Kudlow told CNN’s State of the Union host Jake Tapper on Sunday morning. ‘People must observe the safety guidelines, OK, must. The social distancing must be observed. Face coverings in key places must be observed.’
When asked if he feels the same way about people wearing masks when attending Trump’s rally on Saturday, June 20 in Tulsa, Kudlow conceded, ‘Well, OK, probably so.’
In Tulsa County, 62 people have died from COVID-19 and there are 1,525 confirmed cases – with about 18 per cent of that total coming from the 82 new cases reported on Sunday.
On Saturday, Oklahoma health officials reported 225 new cases of coronavirus, marking a new high in daily increases for the state.
‘COVID is here in Tulsa, it is transmitting very efficiently,’ Dart said. ‘I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn’t as large a concern as it is today.’
White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow also admitted Sunday that if people attend Trump’s rally on Saturday, they should wear masks
Trump’s first post-coronavirus rally will be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday, June 20 after he was forced off the campaign trail for more than three months as lockdowns and social distancing guidelines sidelined him back to Washington, D.C.
Data for the county shows that Tulsa’s 7-day rolling average for new cases has risen from 24.9 on June 7 to 51.4 as of Friday – and Dart says the increase is not due to any sort of bolstered testing efforts.
He claimed that the increase could be attributed to people attending several private events recently and ignoring guidelines due after experiencing ‘quarantine fatigue.’
Trump’s rally on Saturday, as of now, will take place at the Bank of Oklahoma Center, a 19,1999-seat multi-purpose sports and events arena.
The president claims 20,000 people have already requested tickets for the event on his reelection campaign website.
‘A large indoor rally with 19-20,000 people is a huge risk factor today in Tulsa, Oklahoma,’ Dart said. ‘I want to make sure we can keep everyone in that building safe, including the president.’
Dart added that ‘people are not staying home now, they’re out and about.’
‘I completely understand that, staying closed just wasn’t feasible economically and from an emotional, physical perspective,’ he told Tulsa World, urging that if the rally goes forward some sort of social distancing or mask requirements be implemented.
He also suggested that the rally, and any other events in Tulsa, be held outdoors.
‘So if we’re going to be out, we shouldn’t be in enclosed spaces and we shouldn’t have extended contact with other people because that’s where the risk lies,’ Dart said.
Trump has suggested that his rallies should be able to resume after massive protests broke out all over the country with demonstrators standing in close proximity to each other, and many not wearing masks.
The riots and protests broke out after George Floyd died in Minneapolis, Minnesota while in police custody.
Other controversy emerged over Trump’s rally after he announced last week that it would originally take place on Friday, June 19 – which is the Civil Rights holiday of Juneteenth to commemorate the date the last black slaves were informed of their freedom following the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Republican Oklahoma Senator James Lankford said Sunday that he encouraged Trump to pick a day for his rally around Juneteenth, rather than on the day itself, after the president faced backlash for his decision.
Lankford said during CNN’s State of the Union Sunday morning that Trump brought up the issue during an unrelated call last week, and asked the Republican lawmaker for his advice on how to move forward after scheduling the Tulsa rally for Friday.
‘My encouragement to the President was to be able to pick a day around it,’ Lankford told Tapper. ‘I think that would be very, very respectful to the community.’
‘He didn’t see it as disrespectful to be able to do it on Juneteenth,’ the GOP senator said of Trump’s decision to originally schedule the rally for that date.
Trump made an impromptu announcement during a meeting surrounded by black supporters last week that he would hold his first rally since March in deep red Oklahoma on June 19.
Oklahoma Senator James Lankford said Sunday that he encouraged Donald Trump to change his rally date, but keep it on a day surrounding Juneteenth. ‘My encouragement to the President was to be able to pick a day around it… I think that would be very, very respectful to the community’
Trump previously said the date of his first post-coronavirus rally was not meant to coincide with the holiday, but claimed in an interview with Fox News to ‘think about it [the rally] as a celebration’
Fox News Channel’s Harris Faulker asked President Trump if his decision to hold his first campaign rally in the midst of nationwide protests on Juneteenth in Tulsa was ‘on purpose’ – since the date and a place that are significant to black Americans
Trump originally claimed that he didn’t schedule the rally for the reason of commemorating the holiday, but later defended the move as a way to ‘celebrate’ the date the last slaves were informed of their freedom thanks to the Emancipation Proclamation.
‘Think about it as a celebration. My rally is a celebration,’ the president said during a sit-down interview with Fox News Channel’s Harris Faulkner. ‘In the history of politics, I think I can say there’s never been any group or any person that’s had rallies like I do.’
The president’s answer was prompted from Faulkner, who is black, asking Trump if he had selected the date and the location ‘on purpose,’ as both have meaning to black Americans – while Oklahoma isn’t a swing state.
Trump said he will head to three other states to hold massive rallies soon as coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions begin to lift – all three, North Carolina, Arizona and Florida, are swing states.
While the president has not been consistent on whether the June 19 date has significance for his rally as the country faces some of the most outward race riots and protests since the Civil Rights Movement, the city itself is significant because it faced one of the most violent racial episodes in U.S. history there 99 years ago.
Ninety-nine years ago in Tulsa a gang of white people stormed the area of the city that was nicknamed ‘Black Wall Street’ and killed black people, looted businesses and even used airplanes to firebomb the neighborhood
This 1921 photo shows the aftermath of the assault by white Americans on black Americans in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma
To Faulkner’s question Trump answered, ‘No, but I know exactly what you’re going to say.’
‘Well, I’m just asking. I’ve not got anything to say,’ Faulkner replied.
But a number of black leaders have chewed into Trump for the rally’s date and locale.
On May 31 and June 1, 1921, white residents attacked and killed black residents in the Greenwood district of Tulsa that was referred to at the time as ‘Black Wall Street.’
Stores and homes were looted and burned. White assailants even used airplanes to drop firebombs, some eyewitnesses said. There’s a continued search for mass graves.
Younger audiences learned this piece of horrific American history last year when it was depicted on the HBO show ‘Watchmen.’
The choice seemed to be just another way Trump was dog-whistling to his predominantly white base in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, which inspired ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests across the nation.
For over a week Trump has tried to push a ‘law and order’ message, signaling that he sided with police over protesters.
The Trump rally could attract more ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests, which have had public health officials concerned could contribute to the coronavirus spread.
For his own crowd, the president’s campaign has asked rally-goers to agree not to sue the campaign and other entities if they contract COVID-19.
President Trump’s supporters who want tickets for his Tulsa rally have to agree not to sue the president’s campaign and other entities if they contract COVID-19. The language is at the bottom of the ticketing form
‘By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present,’ a ticketing form on the campaign website read.
It goes on to say that by attending the June 19 rally ‘you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President … liable for any illness or injury.’
By obtaining tickets through the form, rally attendees are also not able to sue the Bank of Oklahoma Center, the venue for the rally, ASM Global, which is the venue’s management company and ‘any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers,’ the disclaimer said.
The Trump campaign has not announced any social distancing plans, though spokesman Tim Murtaugh told DailyMail.com, ‘There will be health precautions.’
During his sit-down with Faulkner during a trip Thursday to Texas, Trump simply highlighted the potential size of the crowd.
‘I go and I just say, give me the biggest stadium and we fill it up every time,’ the president said.
‘We’ve never had a vacancy,’ he boasted.
THE 1921 TULSA RACE RIOT: AN ATTACK ON GREENWOOD
After World War I, Tulsa was recognized for its affluent African-American community known as the Greenwood District.
The community was often referred to as the ‘Black Wall Street’ because of its thriving businesses and residential area.
But in June 1921, the community was nearly destroyed during the Tulsa Race Riot.
The events leading up to the riot began on May 30, 1921, when a young black man named Dick Rowland was riding in the elevator with a woman named Sarah Page.
The details of what followed vary from person to person and it’s unclear what actually happened.
During the Tulsa Riot, 35 city blocks were completely destroyed and more than 800 people were treated for injuries. Historians believe as many as 300 people may have died in the riot
Rowland was arrested the next day by Tulsa police.
Subsequently, a report in the Tulsa Tribune dated May 31, 1921, started a confrontation between black and white armed men at the courthouse.
Shots were fired and the African-Americans retreated to the Greenwood District.
In the early morning hours of June 1, 1921, Greenwood was looted and burned by white rioters.
Governor Robertson declared martial law, and National Guard troops were called in to Tulsa.
During the riot, 35 city blocks were completely destroyed and more than 800 people were treated for injuries.
Historians believe as many as 300 people may have died in the riot.
In 2001, the Race Riot Commission was organized to review the details of the deadly riot.
Source: Tulsa History.org