Writing on Twitter, Trump has grouped “protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes” and said they would not be offered what he decried as mild treatment if they gathered in outside of his event in Tulsa. It was in the morning that he used an obviously false video of young children to denounce media coverage of American race relations, a move that sparked a reprimand from Twitter.
The messages, which came as the nation marked the day in 1865 when the last enslaved blacks in the United States learned that they had been freed from servitude, made no attempt to set a unifying or commemorative tone. Instead, Trump used his platform to escalate the drama surrounding his return to the election campaign after a forced absence of 110 days during a pandemic and warn those who oppose him to stay away.
“Please understand, you will not be treated as you were in New York, Seattle or Minneapolis. It will be a very different scene! He wrote Friday morning.
It was a reversal of Trump’s statement earlier this month that he is an “ally of all peaceful protesters”, but not necessarily surprising given his repeated condemnation of protests which, in some cases, have turned violent.
“Large crowds and lines are already forming in Tulsa. My campaign hasn’t started yet. It starts Saturday evening in Oklahoma! ” he wrote.
Indeed, outside the Bank of Oklahoma Center in Tulsa, a line began to form earlier this week with participants eagerly awaiting the president’s arrival.
The mayor of Tulsa, a Republican, on Thursday signed an executive decree establishing a curfew for parts of the city center near the place of the gathering, saying that more than 100,000 people were expected to be present near the event.
The mayor said that “individuals from organized groups who have been implicated in destructive and violent behavior in other states plan to travel to the city of Tulsa in order to cause unrest in and around the rally “
Trump originally planned to hold the rally on Friday, but changed the date after learning that it had fallen on Juneteenth, the historic anniversary of Texas slaves learning that they were free almost three years after the president signed it. Abraham Lincoln of the Emancipation Proclamation.
On Friday, the White House released a statement marking the holiday, writing “it reminds us of both the unimaginable injustice of slavery and the incomparable joy that must have witnessed emancipation.” It is both the memory of a plague on our history and a celebration of our nation’s unrivaled ability to triumph over darkness. ”
However, the “triumph over darkness” message was barely visible on Trump’s Twitter feed less than 30 minutes later when he tweeted his threat against the protesters.
Trump also complained about a recent Fox News poll showing him behind double-digit Democratic Presidential rival Joe Biden, recent Democratic political advertising, the Supreme Court decision on immigration and a message saying, “THE SILENT MAJORITY IS STRONGER THAN EVER. “”
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal this week, Trump said that neither he nor his political advisers were aware of the significance of Juneteenth when planning the rally in Tulsa. He said that a black secret service agent explained it to him.
Trump finally moved the rally one day. But its location and timing remain controversial. Tulsa is the site of some of the worst racist violence in American history, a fact that Trump has not addressed.
And the rally is organized despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Oklahoma recently reported its largest one-day increase in coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, and the arena where the rally will take place requests a written campaign plan “detailing the steps the event will take in place for health and safety, including those related to social isolation. ”
The Trump campaign later declared that it takes “safety seriously” and noted that hand sanitizer, temperature controls and masks will be provided to participants, although wearing a mask does not is not necessary.
“It will be a Trump rally, which means a large, noisy and excited crowd,” said the campaign.
This story was updated on Friday with additional developments.