A tumultuous spring in America ended Saturday with potential flashpoints across the nation, from President Donald Trump’s return to the campaign trail in Tulsa to ongoing protests over racism and police brutality.
Trump’s first rally since the coronavirus pandemic began will unfold on a tense Juneteenth weekend in the Oklahoma city where the 1921 Tulsa race massacre left up to 300 Black residents dead and the Black Greenwood District in ruins.
From New York to the nation’s capital to Los Angeles, thousands of protesters are expected to hold marches and rallies ignited by the death of George Floyd last month at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.
The demonstrations come one day after Trump warned on Twitter that “protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes” outside his rally could be treated roughly.
The rally aimed at reigniting Trump’s reelection bid was originally scheduled for Friday, which was Juneteenth — the day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
The President rescheduled the event in response to criticism but has largely remained silent on the issue of systemic racism and has resisted changes proposed in the wake of the protests.
A group called Refuse Fascism said it planned a 4 p.m. rally outside the site of Trump’s event. Similar rallies were planned in at least a dozen other US cities.
US Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, a Republican, told Fox News on Saturday that he expected Trump to speak about race, adding that “only the President can speak to this issue unlike any other American can speak to this issue.”
“It would be important for the President to make a very clear statement that we are one nation under God, indivisible,” Lankford said.
Both the ongoing nationwide protests and Trump’s Saturday rally have generated concerns about the potential spread of coronavirus.
Six staffers working on the Tulsa event have tested positive for the virus, the Trump campaign said Saturday.
Millions of Americans have poured onto the streets across the country since the killings of Floyd — on May 25 — and other African American men by police officers.
As people started to arrive early for Trump’s Tulsa rally, demonstrators with Black Lives Matter and other organizations were beginning to mass around the country.
About 75 people clustered in Foley Square In Manhattan for a protest on a warm afternoon.