Ahead of President Trump's "Keep America Great" rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday night, Black Lives Matter protesters gathered outside the venue as Trump supporters waited for the doors to open. The interactions between protesters and supporters remained civil much of the afternoon, but little-to-no social distancing was seen.
Trump supporters parked themselves at the public entrances of the BOK Center since early Saturday morning, chanting, waving flags and blasting music. People could be seen sweating shoulder-to-shoulder in confined spaces, at times, pushed up against one another. Megaphones were seen flooding the streets, held by self-proclaimed preachers and those spewing InfoWars filibusters.
Tulsa police made one arrest around 11:30 a.m., Central Time, when Trump campaign staff requested an individual be moved from the secure area of the rally.
Many also said they would like the president to discuss the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, despite some insisting that the virus — which has killed more than 100,000 people in the U.S. — is "a hoax." It was discovered Saturday that six of Trump's campaign staffers have tested positive for coronavirus, although the campaign said that these individuals will not be at the rally site. Saturday's rally will be Mr. Trump's first since lockdown measures were put in place to help slow the spread of the virus.
Rallygoers had to undergo temperature checks before entering the arena, and were offered hand sanitizer and blue surgical masks. Those who wore a mask were also handed a Trump-Pence sticker.
Early on Saturday afternoon, some Trump supporters clashed in a heated conversation with a small group of Black Lives Matter protesters outside the venue.
"All lives can't matter until black lives matter! Why don't you understand?" one protester asked a Trump supporter.
"So do white people. So does white skin," a Trump supporter interjected.
"You don't give a sh** about our fear," the Black Lives Matter protester countered.
Protests continued to grow throughout the afternoon.
Many marched up and down the street with a highlighter orange banner that read "impeach Trump." One protester confronted police officers, megaphone in hand, and asked the officers, "Why are you only over here? Why is no one over there with the Trump supporters?"
About two hours ahead of Mr. Trump's rally, the National Guard and Oklahoma police formed a police line inside the rally perimeter. Officers also closed a gate along one of the street entrances to the rally.
Saturday's protests also included two of the world-famous Trump baby balloons, CBS Austin reports. The balloons could be seen floating above the buildings a few miles away from the BOK Center.
Police put up crime scene tape along at least one of the entrances to the BOK Center, blocking protesters, CBS Austin reports. Dozens of protesters could be seen standing along the yellow tape, holding signs against police brutality, as police in riot gear guarded a nearly empty lot behind them.
As Vice President Mike Pence kicked off the rally, hundreds of protesters continued to congregate in downtown Tulsa, CBS affiliate KOTV reported. The protesters, monitored by National Guard members, peacefully chanted and played music. At the same time, Pence spoke to a widely empty arena about the need to stop looting and violent rioters across the country.
Nicole Sganga contributed to this reporting.
First published on June 20, 2020 / 8:07 PM
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