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Trump gives grievance-filled speech to unfilled arena as protests stay mostly peaceful

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 6/21/2020 Robert Klemko, Arelis Hernández, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Alex Horton

President Trump, after boasting about enthusiasm and promising a full house, spoke in an arena in Tulsa on Saturday night with many seats unfilled amid the coronavirus pandemic. Most of his supporters in the 19,000-seat BOK Center were not wearing masks, hours after his campaign had announced that six members of the advance team staffing the event had tested positive for the virus.

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In a speech lasting nearly two hours — filled with grievances, falsehoods and misleading claims — Trump said that because more testing means higher numbers of known coronavirus cases, his direction was to curtail it. “So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down,’” he said. A White House official said later the president was “obviously kidding,” but he has previously expressed skepticism about testing, which public health experts say is required to contain the outbreak.

  • Trump also downplayed the severity of the virus, fixating on the number of names used for it — and offering one, “Kung Flu,” a racially offensive term.
  • There was no massive overflow audience greeting Trump; the area outside the arena had emptied out by early evening, and plans for Trump to address the audience outside were quickly scrapped. The campaign blamed protesters, but there were only scattered efforts to block entrances, which were resolved by police.
  • The campaign said quarantine procedures had gone into effect for the infected staff members and those in “immediate contact” with them. Meanwhile, Tulsa County reported 136 new cases Saturday — marking another high for both single-day and average cases — while the state as a whole reported 331 new infections.
  • At least six people were arrested with charges of obstruction, loitering and other related offenses. Police fired pepper balls during one tense moment before demonstrators fell back to the historically black Greenwood neighborhood, where people danced in an atmosphere more party than protest.

11:59 PM: Greenwood neighborhood is more block party than protest

More than a thousand people gathered in streets of the historically black Greenwood neighborhood in a scene that was more block party than protest. People dance and mingled, with no visible police presence but well-armed private security guards patrolling the area.

The Black Lives Matter slogan and clenched, raised fist logo were projected onto the side of the Vernon AME Church.

a close up of a busy city street at night: The Vernon AME Church in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa is lit up Saturday night. (Bret Schulte for The Washington Post) © Bret Schulte/FTWP The Vernon AME Church in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa is lit up Saturday night. (Bret Schulte for The Washington Post)

Hundreds more protesters, many carrying anti-Trump signs and chanting, “Black lives matter” arrived at Greenwood Avenue, arriving in an ebullient mood, pumping their fists in the air.

Cousins Mo and Chris Ruff leaned on the hood of a cousin’s orange 2020 Chevy Camaro and sipped from water bottles. Chris Ruff, 28, said the Trump visit made no difference to him, and he didn’t expect to see a single Trump voter all night.

“This is Juneteenth … we’d be out here anyway,” he said. “They’re scared to come over here. I know that. They know better. We ain’t playin.'”

Mo, 29, said the occasion had a different, more defiant energy with Trump’s rally on the other side of town and a helicopter circling overhead: “Why the hell that orange man decided to come out here after we’re celebrated Juneteenth, I will never know.”

Greenwood is a historically black neighborhood in Tulsa and is the site of the Tulsa Race Massacre, when a white mob killed an estimated 300 black residents. On Friday, during Juneteenth celebrations, people painted “Black Lives Matter” on the street.

By: Bret Schulte and Robert Klemko

11:28 PM: Protesters arrested for tying themselves to flag poles

Three protesters were booked in the Tulsa County jail after tying themselves to flag poles in Tulsa.

The activists had to be cut down after suspending themselves off the ground with some type of climbing equipment, according to arrest reports.

One of the women had a yellow flag with her that stated “Invest in Black Communities,” according to the report.

Gallery by photo services

An Austin man was arrested a couple of minutes before in the same area after reportedly following police officers into a restricted area of the Trump rally.

The man refused to leave when police asked, and though he told them he was a member of the media, he could not provide proof, the arrest report states.

All four were arrested on complaints of obstruction and are held in lieu of $500 bond.

By: Kelsy Schlotthauer

11:15 PM: Trump supporters and protesters confront one another post-rally

Tension came to a head near the arena, at 4th and Boulder, as scores of protesters encircled police and state troopers trying to clear the way for rally-goers to exit safely and keep the groups separate. At one point, pepper spray was released and the groups dispersed.

Protesters headed away from downtown Tulsa northeast toward the Greenwood neighborhood. Hundreds of families, including those with young children, spilled out from the arena toward municipal parking lots and hotels.

Fourth and Boulder became a gathering place for dozens of people, mostly Trump supporters, who seem to be waiting for the return of counter protesters, gathering in large groups. Vendors sold beer out of coolers and discounted MAGA gear as people headed home, as the scene thinned considerably.

The police presence — from various state and local agencies — increased substantially as the night wore on and every so often, a bellicose voice punctured the humid night air.

Trump supporters walked away from heated conversations, seemingly puzzled by the opposition to the president. Black Lives Matters protester also were aghast at the gulf of understanding between them and the people leaving the rally.

There was little common ground besides the mutual outrage they shared.

By: Arelis R. Hernández

10:19 PM: Tulsa mayoral aide resigns over rally handling

A Tulsa mayoral aide resigned Saturday in response to the city’s handling of the president’s campaign rally.

Jack Graham said the decision has been building since the pandemic began, but the lack of enforcement of CDC guidelines at the presidential rally was the last straw.

In the letter, addressed to Bynum and later posted to social media, Graham wrote: “I appreciate the opportunities you have given me over the years, but my heart is telling me that I can no longer effectively support you and the decisions you make for Tulsa.”

Graham told The Post he has been “extremely supportive” of Bynum’s work since starting in his office as an intern just out of college in 2017.

“But I started becoming unsupportive when people kind of just passed the baton along and didn’t want to make a firm decision to adhere to the CDC guidelines or social distancing that any other event like this should deal with,” he said. “Someone told me the basic test for anything is: Are people going to die?"

“In this case, people are going to die.”

Graham said on top of the likely spread of a potentially deadly disease, the city has lost relationships within the community, be it partners, schools, foundations or activists.

Although some questioned why Graham posted his resignation publicly after submitting it to the mayor, he said he stands by his decision to share.

“In these roles, I don’t get to be heard or get to state my opinion, and at a certain point, I had to stand for myself and where my heart is,” he said.

By: Kelsy Schlotthauer

9:32 PM: Trump says flag burners should be sentenced to a year in prison

President Trump told his supporters at the rally in Tulsa on Saturday that demonstrators who burn American flags should be sentenced to a year in prison.

Setting aside the First Amendment right to free speech, Trump called flag burning a desecration that needed to be stopped. He urged the two Republican U.S. senators from Oklahoma in attendance at the rally, Jim Inhofe and James Lankford, to introduce legislation to make it a criminal offense.

"We should have legislation that if somebody wants to burn the American flag and stomp on it, just burn it, they go to jail for one year,’’ Trump said.

The remarks came during a speech in which he sought to rally his base by stoking the culture wars that have engulfed the nation. He jabbed at the left, demonstrators, and illegal aliens.

Trump criticized NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for apologizing this month for opposing kneeling during the national anthem. "I like Roger Goodell, but I didn’t like what he said a week ago,’’ Trump said. We will never kneel to our national anthem or our great American flag. We will stand proud and we will stand tall.’’

By: Christopher Rowland

9:19 PM: Trump says he told advisers to slow coronavirus testing in U.S.


President Trump complained that coronavirus testing in the United States — which began later in the pandemic than it did in other countries — is driving up the numbers of confirmed infections, and he said he told his advisers to test people more slowly, even though experts agree that robust testing is the best way to control the pandemic.

“Here’s the bad part: When you do testing to that extent you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases,'' he said. “So I said to my people, slow the testing down, please. They test and they test.''

Trump has said before that he’s skeptical about the importance of testing. But a White House official told The Washington Post Trump was joking.

Trump called the novel coronavirus “kung flu” during his speech in Tulsa, using a racist term to allude to the origin of the outbreak in Wuhan, China, as he took aim at some of his favorite targets on the left and the media. "It’s a disease that without question has more names than any disease,'' he said. “I can name kung flu. I can name 19 different versions of them.''

Also calling the disease “Chinese virus,'' he boasted about stopping travel from China earlier in the pandemic and said the United States has tested 25 million people, which he said was more than other countries.

In March, senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said it was “highly offensive” to refer to coronavirus as “kung flu.”

Drawing hearty cheers from his supporters, Trump also denounced protesters and political leaders who are pursuing the removal of Confederate statues across the South, calling it a “desecration.'”

“The unhinged left-wing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrating our monuments, our beautiful monuments,'' he said. “This cruel campaign of censorship and exclusion violates everything we hold dear as Americans. They want to demolish our heritage so they can impose their new oppressive regime in its place.”

By: Christopher Rowland

9:17 PM: Downtown Tulsa businesses close early

Downtown Tulsa is closed for business as the sun sets and the rally ges underway. Block after block of restaurants, bars and storefronts closed early, many with windows boarded up. Signs in doors explained to patrons that they closed early for the day, often at 3 or 4 p.m., as a safety precaution, urging customers to return again soon.

Dave Sopark, 37, the owner of a Jinya Ramen franchise, supervised his employee boarding up his restaurant around 7 p.m., later than most.

“I wasn’t going to do it up till last night,” Sopack said. “I heard of other places — even my neighbors here —closing and that made me think harder about the safety of my staff.”

A Jinya employee said he was concerned about people bringing guns inside, and Sopack said he heard that bad actors would be coming to town. “But the reports say the [BOK Center] is only like half-full,” Sopark said, “so maybe it won’t be as bad as people are saying.”

By: Bret Schulte

8:54 PM: Protesters gather 30 minutes from arena

a group of people on a field: Peaceful protestors gather in Veterans Park to protest Donald Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday June 20, 2020. (Photo by Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post) © Amanda Voisard/for The Washington Post Peaceful protestors gather in Veterans Park to protest Donald Trump's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday June 20, 2020. (Photo by Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post)

At Veterans Park, about a 30-minute walk from the BOK Center, a multicultural group of hundreds gathered to hear civil rights protest veterans, new activists, musicians and spoken word artists as the sun set on Saturday afternoon. The Rally Against Hate was organized by Tykebrean Cheshire, who said she started a nonprofit called Peaceful Rally Tulsa 10 days ago.

“That 8 minutes and 46 seconds changed the whole world. It made people think, why have I not been listening,” said Cheshire, 21, who is black and Hispanic, referring to the police killing of George Floyd. “Some people thought, that could’ve been my son. And others thought, that couldn’t have been my son. And they were both right.”

She says she quit her job at Target and dedicated her adult life to peaceful organizing. The distance from the BOK Center was intentional.

“Our biggest thing was to make sure people felt safe tonight,” Cheshire said. “Going to the BOK Center didn’t feel like a safe option. I wanted to do the old-school [Martin Luther King] thing. We’re able to connect with each other, and that’s the most important thing today.

By: Robert Klemko

8:42 PM: Trump blames media, protesters for empty seats at his Tulsa event

a close up of a blue wall: A supporter sits alone in the top sections of seating as Vice President Mike Pence speaks before President Donald J. Trump arrives for a "Make America Great Again!" rally in Tulsa. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post) © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/TWP A supporter sits alone in the top sections of seating as Vice President Mike Pence speaks before President Donald J. Trump arrives for a "Make America Great Again!" rally in Tulsa. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Before an arena with a large number of empty seats in Tulsa, President Trump launched his rally Saturday night by taking aim at the media and demonstrators outside and launched into a list of accomplishments of his first three years in office, starting with Supreme Court appointments and increased military spending.

“You are warriors. … We had some very bad people outside. They were doing bad things,” Trump said, seeming to blame the media for the light showing at his widely anticipated campaign event.

Of the media, he said, “I’ve been watching the fake news for weeks now, and everything is negative: Don’t go, don’t come, don’t do anything.”

Trump boasted about getting Supreme Court Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh onto the bench, but the crowd gave a few boos at the mention of Gorsuch, who provided a key vote this week to prevent discrimination against gay and transgender people in the workplace.

“I stand before you today to declare the silent majority is stronger than ever before. Five months from now, we’re going to defeat sleepy Joe Biden,” Trump said. “We’re going to stop the radical left. We’re going to build a future of safety and opportunity for Americans of every race, color, religion and creed.”

By: Christopher Rowland

8:35 PM: Photos: Tensions rise at Trump rally in Tulsa

a group of people that are standing in the street: A Tulsa police officer clears the road as Sincere Terry, 18, leads counterprotesters outside the rally site.

A Tulsa police officer clears the road as Sincere Terry, 18, leads counterprotesters outside the rally site.
© Amanda Voisard/for The Washington Post

See more photos from the Tulsa rally

By: Washington Post Staff

8:35 PM: Woman in ‘I cant breathe’ shirt details arrest

Clad in a mask and hood, wearing a shirt that said “I can’t breathe," Sheila Buck sat defiant in the street.

Moment before, Buck, a 62-year-old Tulsa resident and Catholic school art teacher, had wielded a ticket to enter the rally Saturday afternoon, she told The Washington Post.

She said she made it past the barricades but was then stopped by who she said were federal authorities in plainclothes. They told her she could not enter and did not provide a reason, she said, but she thinks the message on her shirt was the reason.

“‘You’re not invited,‘” she said they told her. ‘“We don’t want you here.’”

She said she left the area but was confronted by police in the blocked-off street. The officers appeared excited at the prospect of arresting someone, she said, and she began to pray.

The moment was captured live on television as Buck — wearing a hood inspired by the fictional, Tulsa-set HBO program “The Watchmen” — refused to stand up.

“Somebody has to do this,” she said

Two officers dragged her away on charges of trespassing and resisting arrest, she said. She was taken to a hospital after her blood pressure spiked in the jail, and she was administered fluids before returning, she said. She was released hours later.

The plainclothes law enforcement took her phone, she said, which she still has hasn’t received.

“I wasn’t loud, I didn’t have a sign, I just showed up with a mask and my T-shirt,” Buck said.

“I’m just done. I wanted to say this is not okay,” she said. “Our country is now divided and we have got to stand for what’s right.”

Another demonstrator, Phillip Rufkahr of Missouri, was arrested after he was ordered to stop loitering near the entrance. He was booked and held in lieu of a $500 bond, according to an arrest report.

Kelsy Schlotthauer contributed to this report.

By: Ziva Branstetter and Alex Horton

8:16 PM: Black Lives Matter activists criticize Trump, Pence for rally

Black Lives Matter protesters took President Trump to task for hosting a political rally in Tulsa, the site of the worst racial violence in U.S. history, on Juneteenth weekend. Black activists said the rally stoked racial tensions in the city.

In the district of Greenwood, black leaders rushed to cover up Black Wall Street memorials hours before a scheduled visit by Vice President Pence on Saturday. The memorials honor the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. They also pay tribute to the Tulsa community of Greenwood, one of the richest black communities in the country before the 1921 massacre.

Activists said they did not want Pence to use the historic district for a political event.

“I just think his visit is an opportunity for a photo op,” said community activist and educator Kristi Williams. “We say, ‘Don’t come for a photo op when you have not come to sit down and talk with black leaders in the community.’ We are beyond symbolism.”

Read more here.

By: DeNeen L. Brown

8:11 PM: Pence asks for four more years for Trump

Vice President Pence took the stage a little after 7:30 ET and lavished praise on the president and said that, because of Trump’s leadership, the coronavirus is close to being “in the past.”

“The transition to greatness has begun. And despite the fear mongering of some in the media, the truth is all across this country hospitalizations are down, our losses are declining and every day we’re one day closer to putting the coronavirus in the past,” Pence said.

He said Trump needs four more years to finish what they started.“He’s a man who says what he means and means what he says,” Pence said."We will make America great again," Pence said. “Again.”

The lower bowl of the arena was largely full, as was the floor, while the upper bowl of the arena was largely empty.

By: Colby Itkowitz and Josh Dawsey

7:43 PM: In Greenwood, residents gather to celebrate and protest

In Greenwood, music is playing, families are gathering; volunteers are handing out free bottled water and fruit. Standing in the shade near the Black Wall Street massacre memorial, Adam Crawford, 24, stood with a shotgun over his shoulder, watching a growing and light-hearted crowd gather across the street from the Vernon AME Church.

Crawford is part of a private security team of about a half dozen here to protect the church. A self-described Army brat and a welder, he moved to Tulsa three years ago and said he fell in love with the community. He described the Juneteenth celebration yesterday on this same spot as joyous. Now, he’s watchful, alert. “I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “I’m staying right here to protect this land.”

Sharon Erby, a 59-year-old native of the neighborhood, sat with friends under a Chinese maple across from the church, which was set ablaze during the 1921 massacre of black residents by a white mob. Spread in front of her was a field of makeshift signs written with marker on white poster board, with messages like “DIVEST IN POLICE INVEST IN PUBLIC HEALTH.”

Erby and her friends arrived at 10 a.m. with no plan in mind other to continue to celebrate Juneteenth, a celebration of freedom from slavery. Soon, they found themselves in the church social hall, writing up the signs.

“These are expressions of what people feeling,” Erby said. “This is what was in their hearts.”

Sitting in the shade next to her, Cassandra Cozart, 58, leaned in to clarify: “It’s cause we don’t want Donald Trump here.”

They stuck the signs in the yard across the street from the church, which bears a large memorial plaque, akin to those erected for those killed in foreign wars, with the names of the dead from the race massacre. This morning, Erby and other volunteers draped that large stone slab in a tarp and taped across it a sign reading: “This is not a photo-op. This is sacred ground.”

Erby says her group covered it up this morning “to prevent Trump supporters from coming up here and taking pictures of our monuments and take a part of our history when they don’t want to be a part of it.” Volunteers also blacked out swaths of the Black Wall Street mural that adorns part of the overpass retaining wall, a popular spot for selfies.

At the church, the pastor Robert Turner worked in his office behind locked doors guarded by a small cadre of private security with semiautomatic weapons. “This church is basically the last thing left on Greenwood Avenue,” Turner said. “With Trump coming to town, I don’t want to let any of that neo-Confederate crowd coming to finish the job.”

State Sen. Kevin Matthews, who represents the Greenwood area of Tulsa, said that Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt originally invited the president to visit Greenwood on his trip to Tulsa, when the rally was scheduled for Friday, the celebration of Juneteenth. Matthews was asked to host the president.

The president would have visited OneOK Field, home to the minor league Tulsa Drillers, and the future site of Living Greenwood, a proposed museum and educational center focused on the massacre and Black Wall Street. “I had a talk with the governor that would not be a good idea,” Matthews said in an interview.

“Greenwood would have to be shut down,” Matthews said. “It was disruptive for the Juneteenth event.”

Read more here.

By: Bret Schulte

7:01 PM: With no massive overflow audience, campaign blames protesters

a group of people walking on a city street: An outdoor stage at the rally in Tulsa. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post) © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post An outdoor stage at the rally in Tulsa. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

On June 15, Trump celebrated on Twitter that nearly a million people had requested tickets for his rally in Tulsa. His campaign manager, Brad Parscale, touted similar figures.

The campaign was so intent on involving those who could not make it into the 19,000-seat arena that preparations were made for the president to address attendees outside as well. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) told reporters earlier Saturday that the outdoor remarks would be a chance for supporters fearful about an indoor gathering to take part nonetheless.

But an overflow audience failed to materialize, as the area outside the arena emptied out and plans for an outdoor address were scrapped. Inside the stadium, the program began with a swath of seats still unfilled. The upper bowl of the stadium was almost entirely empty with less than an hour before Trump was set to appear. The lower bowl was mostly full but with sections of empty seats. The floor was of the arena was about two-thirds full.

The campaign blamed protesters, though there was little evidence the president’s fans were deterred by backlash to his visit.

“Sadly, protestors interfered with supporters, even blocking access to the metal detectors, which prevented people from entering the rally,” said Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman. “Radical protestors, coupled with a relentless onslaught from the media, attempted to frighten off the president’s supporters. We are proud of the thousands who stuck it out.”

Tulsa police erected metal fencing and other barriers as a part of a “secure zone” around the venue. One protester was arrested Saturday at the request of the Trump campaign for refusing to leave the barricaded area.

"There's not a million people like they said," said Erin Taylor, 33, as she left the rally site with her parents.

"We've been here for a few hours," Jeff Marlow, 68, explained. "We're hot, and tired, and thirsty."

The space outside the BOK Center had been laid out for a large crowd. A stage was set for a presidential speech, with a lectern in front of an American flag and behind protective glass. Fans had been set up alongside the path to the arena, which was empty apart from foot traffic to the arena.

“They’re being wasted here,” said Cindy Marlow, 67.

By: Isaac Stanley-Becker and David Weigel

6:36 PM: Eric Trump shares a QAnon meme on Instagram

Eric Trump, the president’s 36-year-old son, on Saturday took to Instagram to drum up support for his father’s Tulsa rally by posting a meme that referred to the QAnon conspiracy theory.

He deleted the post a short time later.

Its meaning was not subtle. “Who’s ready for the Trump Rally tonight?” read the text, set against a giant “Q” and an American flag. It also included the rallying cry “WWG1WGA,” which is a popular tag for QAnon posts. It refers to the motto, “Where we go one, we go all.”

The theory, which has moved from the far reaches of the online image board 4chan to the heart of Trump’s base, holds that the president is battling a secret plot involving the deep state, Democrats and child sex traffickers. Its adherents believe someone using the name Q — in reference to the top security clearance — is feeding them intelligence.

Though the Instagram post was deleted, it marked a major coup for followers of QAnon. Among their central aims is getting Trump and those around him to acknowledge their worldview.

By: Isaac Stanley-Becker

6:31 PM: Trump campaign says president won’t speak to outdoor crowd

The Trump campaign told reporters that it had canceled plans for the president to speak to an overflow crowd outside the arena, but didn’t say why, stating only that, “outside programming is over.”

The campaign had planned hours of entertainment for people who couldn’t get inside, calling it the “Great American Comeback Celebration.” Trump was scheduled to deliver brief remarks there around 7 p.m. ET before heading to the arena.

But with less than two hours before Trump was expected, the outdoor celebration was sparsely attended.

It seems Trump will instead go directly to the arena for his rally, where he’s slated to begin speaking at 8 p.m.

By: David Weigel

5:15 PM: Protesters turned away at gate outside arena

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Sincere Terry and other protesters try to enter the gate to the rally. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post) © Amanda Voisard/for The Washington Post Sincere Terry and other protesters try to enter the gate to the rally. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post)

A small group of protesters tried twice to get into the arena, shutting down one gate in the fence around the arena.

A group of state troopers in riot gear arrived while the group of protesters mingled with Trump supporters trying to get into the rally. The police made space between the groups of people and the gate as officials worked to reopen access to the arena for those attending the rally.

Sincere Terry, 18, a pre-law student at the University of Central Oklahoma, was one of the leaders of the group. Tulsa police told her and several supporters it was up to the private security group contracted by the Trump campaign whether they gained access. Security turned them away a second time after police cleared the area and reopened the gates.

“It’s disrespectful for him to be here right after Juneteenth,” said Terry, who had a ticket to the rally. “I’m not surprised by how we were treated. This is America. It’s sickening. We’re still getting lynched in Houston in 2020 and instead of protecting us, the national guard is out here in Tulsa. This is being black in America. You get used to it or you don’t, but this generation is going to put an end to it.“

Police continued to push people back away from the BOK Center.

By: Arelis R. Hernández and Robert Klemko

4:46 PM: Before Trump rally, Biden draws attention to 1921 Tulsa massacre

Without mentioning President Trump or the Tulsa rally, Joe Biden and his campaign drew attention Saturday to one of the worst episodes of racial violence in American history that occurred in the city in 1921, just a few blocks from the BOK Center, where Trump was scheduled to speak.

“The Tulsa Race Massacre is one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our history — and it has been erased from our national consciousness for far too long,” wrote Biden on Twitter. “It’s time we reckon with what happened in 1921.”

Biden tweeted a video produced by his campaign about the massacre, in which a white mob marched into a Tulsa neighborhood known as Black Wall Street, killing and setting buildings ablaze. Historians estimate as many as 300 black people were killed.

Symone Sanders, a senior Biden campaign adviser, narrated the campaign’s video, in which she recalls history books omitting information about the massacre.

“I didn’t read about it, because for decades, white leaders worked to erase it from history,” says Sanders, who is black. She added, “It’s clear that lots of people could use a lesson the history of Tulsa, Oklahoma.”

Later Saturday night, Trump said that he had directed the Department of the Interior to add a memorial at the site of the Tulsa massacre – the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park — to the African American Civil Rights Network. Trump signed legislation establishing the Civil Rights Network into law in 2018. It encompasses sites and monuments across the country that were vital in the struggle for civil rights.

By: Christopher Rowland and Sean Sullivan

4:32 PM: Trump supporter, Black Lives Matter protester discuss divisiveness

a group of people looking at a cell phone: Dennis Johns and Nick Palmer greet each other in Tulsa. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post) © Amanda Voisard/for The Washington Post Dennis Johns and Nick Palmer greet each other in Tulsa. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post)

After marchers walked north and south on Boulder Avenue, the group dissolved into small clusters of conversation in the street between MAGA-hat wearing Trump supporters and Black Lives Matters protesters.

Dennis Johns of Topeka, Kan., spent several minutes talking cordially to Nick Palmer, an Oklahoma resident. Johns had on a Black Lives Matter shirt and fitted cap and Palmer wore a Trump flag as a cape and a Make America Great Again hat. He also proudly showed his shirt saying, “Don’t trust Infowars!”, referring to the site run by Alex Jones.

Palmer, who described himself as more moderate than some of those screaming through bullhorns, said the nation needs to come to the middle — or at least near it.

Johns agreed but challenged: “But we are so divided right now.”

They spent their conversation trying to find common ground and understand each other’s point.

“I came here to try to understand,” Johns said. The president “is not helping at all.”

“And you think the media is helping at all?” Palmer countered.

“No, not them either,” Johns replied.

They said they both felt like they were being forced to choose a side in a culture war and lamented that most of the debates happening in the street were not happening in the same respectful tone as theirs.

Palmer, who works in construction, explained that he supports Donald Trump because the economy has done so well that “everyone is successful.”

I just want to get back to everyone winning again,” he said.

“Right now, black people are not winning,” Johns countered.

Palmer shook his head as he drank his Modelo beer nestled inside a Trump coozie.

He asked Johns what needs to happen.

The Kansas man began to outline a few policy proposals, including laws that improve police training and require higher education standards. They disagreed on the facts and when the issue of defunding came up, Palmer said that he disagrees with the message but that the idea of restraining municipal budgets appeals to him as a fiscal conservative.

The debate stayed polite and ended with Johns saying, “We need to do better, okay?”

Palmer raised his beer to that.

By: Arelis R. Hernández

3:56 PM: Protesters aim to join Greenwood District to downtown

About half a mile from the crowds gathered outside the arena, a small group of protesters formed at the Center of the Universe, a popular Tulsa landmark.

Activist and Tulsan Eli J. Guerrero, who's trans, queer, indigenous disabled and has a father who immigrated from Mexico, said, "Trump being here is an affront to my whole entire family and really every facet of my life."

They organized the group with the goal of lining two bridges that connect the Greenwood District to downtown with protesters wielding signs and ready to engage in meaningful conversation.

“Specifically talking about how they were affected by this administration, whether it be through legislation or policy or just comments that the president has made,” Guerrero, 29, said. “He has affected so many people’s lives on such a large scale. It’s real easy to hate what you don’t understand, but it’s real hard to look at someone in the face who’s holding someone in the face saying here’s how your vote is not just a check mark on a ballot. You literally have peoples’ lives in your hands when you vote this way or that way. If you vote this way, here’s who you hurt.”

By: Kelsy Schlotthauer

3:28 PM: Black Lives Matter activists, Trump supporters face off near arena

a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera: Protesters march in Tulsa on Saturday. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post) © Amanda Voisard/for The Washington Post Protesters march in Tulsa on Saturday. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post)

Black Lives Matters activists and Trump supporters clashed in the middle of 4th street in Tulsa — mere feet from the barricades that mark the safety zone where troops and police are guarding the entrance of the rally.

The group of young activists began chanting “Black Lives Matter” and using a megaphone shouted down a rallygoer talking them down about abortion and Jesus. The swelling confrontation attracted other Trump supporters heading into the entrance area, screaming back and denouncing the groups mantra.

Trump supporters faced off across Boulder Avenue with protesters shouting “Black Lives Matter!” Tulsa police stood between the two factions and ordered people out of the street. David Morledge, 36, of Fayetteville, Ark., stood in the street and challenged an officer who ordered him to move to the sidewalk to arrest him. Morledge held a sign reading “Dissent is the Highest form of patriotism.” The officer stepped back and moved on.

“Sometimes we have to vote and speak with our bodies,” Morledge said, “and unless we expose ourselves to real risk and step out of our homes where we we can say whatever we please, I’m not sure we’re going to affect real change. I’m a white guy so I don’t face these risks every day, so I’m willing to take on some risk today to show some solidarity.”

By: Robert Klemko and Arelis R. Hernández

2:25 PM: Six members of Trump campaign advance team test positive for coronavirus

Six members of the advance team staffing President Trump’s rally here Saturday tested positive for the coronavirus, underscoring concerns about holding a massive indoor event in a city where cases are spiking.

The campaign said quarantine procedures had gone into effect for the infected staff members and those in “immediate contact" with them.

Doctors and public health officials were already fearful about possible spread from the large gathering. Their concern was heightened by the announcement that members of the advance team, who typically work closely with security and contractors, had been sickened.

“It’s another demonstration that super-spreaders can be alive and well if you don’t use prevention measures, which we know work, including masking, distancing and hand hygiene,” said Jay Bhatt, a physician in Chicago and former chief medical officer at the American Hospital Association. “One person can be a cause of significant transmission. Looking at six on an advance team, there could be significant spread.”

Read the full statement from Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign: "Per safety protocols, campaign staff are tested for COVID-19 before events. Six members of the advance team tested positive out of hundreds of tests performed, and quarantine procedures were immediately implemented. No COVID-positive staffers or anyone in immediate contact will be at today’s rally or near attendees and elected officials. As previously announced, all rally attendees are given temperature checks before going through security, at which point they are given wristbands, face masks and hand sanitizer.”

By: Isaac Stanley-Becker

1:24 PM: Oklahoma reports more than 300 new cases in advance of Trump rally

Oklahoma reported 331 new coronavirus infections Saturday afternoon. The new cases put the state’s rolling average at 281, setting the average high record for the eighth day in a row.

Tulsa County reported 136 new cases – another high for both single-day and average cases, which now stand at 98 up from an average of 51 new cases a day one week ago.

Statewide, Oklahoma’s rolling average is up nearly 94 percentage compared to a week ago. The decision to host a mass indoor gathering sparked concerns it might increase the spread of the highly contagious virus. The rally contravenes social distancing guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and endorsed by members of the White House’s coronavirus task force.

On Friday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected a bid by local residents, business owners and others to require the 19,000-seat venue, the BOK Center, to adhere to those guidelines. The Trump campaign said it would check rallygoers’ temperatures and hand out masks. But masks will not be required and attendees will not be kept six feet apart. Since the start of the pandemic, Oklahoma has reported more than 10,000 infections and more than 360 deaths, according to Washington Post tracking.

By: Brittany Shammas

12:40 PM: Woman wearing 'I can’t breathe’ shirt arrested

a man and a woman taking a selfie in a car: Tulsa police officers arrest a protester at the arena on Saturday. (Mike Simons/Tulsa World via AP) © Mike Simons/AP Tulsa police officers arrest a protester at the arena on Saturday. (Mike Simons/Tulsa World via AP)

One person was arrested at the BOK Center, a private venue leased by the Trump campaign. Shortly before noon, the campaign directed Tulsa police officers to remove Sheila Buck, a city resident who said she had a ticket to the event and had sat down in protest within the barricaded zone. She was wearing a shirt that read, “I can’t breathe," among the final words uttered by George Floyd as a police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck.

By: Arelis R. Hernández

12:35 PM: Sen. Lankford joins many not wearing masks outside rally

a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera: Supporters hold up signs in the BOK Center on Saturday. (Win McNamee/Getty Images) © Win Mcnamee/Getty Images Supporters hold up signs in the BOK Center on Saturday. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Most police officers, National Guard soldiers, food vendors and the vast majority of people in line chose not to wear face coverings, though Trump-branded masks dotted the crowd.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said he and his wife, Cindy, underwent rapid covid-19 tests to ensure they would not spread the virus as they moved without masks through the crowds. They walked the downtown streets surrounding the stadium and spoke with those in line after delivering doughnuts and juice to volunteers earlier in the morning.

Lankford said the state encouraged attendees to get tested at any of the 80 sites around Oklahoma leading up to the event. Those with health issues could follow online, and those who had concerns about being in the enclosed arena could attend the outdoor event, where Trump will be speaking live before he heads inside.

By: Kelsy Schlotthauer

10:01 AM: Trump supporters gather at BOK Center ahead of rally

Margene Dunivant and her son Christian Lynch, both of Tulsa, sat on the edge of the crowd, taking in the scene.

“Everybody here is just full-on American and American Dream and hard-working, and just believes in everything America,” said Dunivant, 52. “Nowadays, it’s like you put on a Trump shirt and you’re considered racist, and it’s just wrong. We’re good people, and we love everybody."

Susan Schoonover and her husband Brian said they woke up at 3 a.m. to drive the 15 miles from their home in Glenpool, Okla. Standing in line to see Trump, Schoonover sparkled in a tutu, tube socks and a red, white and blue head piece, clad for her first Trump rally. The pair purchased a cardboard cutout of Trump from Amazon to display in line, and they said it has been a hit with other attendees.

The parents of four left their children at home “just in case,” they said, citing recent unrest in cities across the country. As for the pandemic, they did not discount the threat of the coronavirus and planned to take some precautions. If they were to contract the virus, however, “it’s not a death sentence,” they said, because both are in their early 30s. Older people with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable, but young adults have also been badly sickened, including by an inflammatory syndrome linked to covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.Robin Wilson, 64, said she was not concerned about contracting the virus inside the stadium despite a heart condition that put her in a wheelchair two years ago.

“I’m here because I love my president,” said Wilson, who used to work in insurance, “and I feel that he’s misrepresented by the mainstream media. And I believe that this is history in the making today, and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Brian Clothier, 61, found a more eye-catching way to illustrate his view of possible risks from the coronavirus. He wore an adult diaper over his pants, where he placed a sign saying the underwear would “stop the spread,” in a reference to the disputed notion that flatulence can be linked to coronavirus transmission.

By: Robert Klemko and Kelsy Schlotthauer


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