President Trump issued a thinly veiled threat to protesters who show up to his massive campaign rally scheduled for Saturday in Tulsa. “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!” Trump wrote on Twitter Friday.
The ominous-sounding post came as people lined up outside the Bank of Oklahoma Center in anticipation of Trump's first campaign rally since the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country.
His campaign has already demanded that those attending must sign waivers agreeing to not hold the organization liable should they contract COVID-19 at the event.
Oklahoma officials have warned those vulnerable to contracting the disease to stay home, and urged participants to wear masks. The city is currently experiencing a spike in coronavirus cases as businesses begin reopening, health authorities said.
Tulsa's Republican mayor, G.T. Bynum, signed an emergency executive order on Thursday establishing a curfew for parts of downtown, saying more than 100,000 people were expected in the area. He also said law enforcement had told him “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.”
The president had initially announced his rally would be held on Friday, but backtracked after learning it fell on Juneteenth, the anniversary of enslaved people in Texas learning they were free nearly three years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Trump said he was informed of the historic day by a Black Secret Service agent, and agreed to move the rally date to Saturday.
He told the Wall Street Journal he had never heard of the celebration. "I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous. It’s actually an important event, an important time. But nobody had ever heard of it,” he told the paper.
The Oklahoma city is also home to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which destroyed hundreds of black businesses and is thought to have killed as many as 300 Black people.
The president faced intense criticism for choosing the location for his first rally since March.
His Friday tweet followed another censure from Twitter, this one for sharing a doctored video that constituted "manipulated media" and violated company policing about misleading posts that could potentially cause harm.
The Friday message did not differentiate between peaceful protesters, who have a Constitutional right to assemble, and those who might cause law enforcement problems.