By Helene Fung
US President Donald Trump made threats on Twitter against any protesters who plan to attend his re-election campaign rally this weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“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!”
Spokespeople for Mr Trump’s campaign and the White House later clarified that the warning was directed at violent protesters, rather than peaceful protesters who are exercising their “First Amendment rights” of free speech.
The rally has already attracted controversy before Mr Trump’s threats, being his first re-election campaign event in the middle of a pandemic. More than 100,000 are expected to gather for the rally on Saturday US local time.
Tulsa Health Department director Dr Bruce Dart expressed that COVID is transmitting very efficiently in Tulsa, and that he wish the event could be postponed. Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum had previously ordered a curfew for an area around the venue, but later rescinded the order at the request of the Secret Service.
The rally location choice of Tulsa has also attracted criticism from Black Lives Matter activists and politicians from the Democratic Party. One of the worst outbreaks of racist violence in US history happened in Tulsa back in 1921; white mobs massacred black residents and destroyed black businesses.