Trump’s decision to hold his first campaign rally in months of the holiday was met with widespread criticism amid national outcry following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police and nationwide protests over police brutality and racial inequality.
“We had previously planned our #MAGA Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for June 19 – a big deal,” Trump said. “Unfortunately, however, this would be a celebration. Many of my African-American friends and supporters have come to suggest that we consider changing the date of respect for these holidays, and respect for this important occasion and all that it represents. Therefore, I decided to move our rally on Saturday, June 20, in order to honor their demands. “
Earlier on Friday, Trump denied in an interview with Fox News that the rally was deliberately scheduled for that date in Tulsa and instead said it should be considered a “celebration”.
“It’s an interesting date. It wasn’t for that reason, but it’s an interesting date,” he said.
However, given the history of Trump’s racist statements, including his embrace of the birther movement, many instead saw the upcoming campaign as a call to rally white defenders. California Sen. Kamala Harris described the event as a “welcome party” for them.
Floyd’s death in police custody has sparked controversy over the race in the United States, although Trump has not given a speech on the race and has largely refused to acknowledge the protesters’ concerns.
During a debate on “justice disputes” in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday, Trump warned against labeling “tens of millions of decent Americans as racists or fanatics.” And he publicly opposed proposals to abolish the names of military commanders from US military assets.
Instead, he has defended himself as “president of your law and order,” as he has called for tough measures against protesters, whom he has at times described as “criminals.” He objected to calls for a reduction in funding for police departments and suggested that an elderly protester in Buffalo, New York, who was treated after police pushed him to the ground, was part of an “organization”. When he cited Floyd’s name, he usually did so as part of a crackdown on violent protesters.
Trump suspended live campaign rallies in March over the corona. Tulsa rally participants must agree not to sue if they become infected.
This story has been updated with additional information about the history.
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.
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