Trump’s decision to hold a rally in the holiday months for the first month has met with widespread criticism due to the national outcry following George Floyd’s death over police officers and protests across the country over police brutality and racial inequality.
“We previously scheduled our #MAGA rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma for June 19 – a big deal,” Trump tweeted. “Unfortunately, however, this would fall on June 19. Many of my African-American friends and supporters have tried to suggest that we consider changing the date in honor of this holiday and appreciating this important occasion and all that it represents. So I decided to move our gathering to Saturday, June 20, to meet 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 done because of that, but it’s an interesting date,” he said.
But given Trump’s history of racist statements, including his embrace of the Birther movement, many instead saw the upcoming campaign event as an invitation to a gathering of white supremacy. Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California called the event a “welcome home.”
Floyd’s death in police custody has revived discussions of race in America, although Trump has not given a speech on race and has largely refused to acknowledge concerns expressed by protesters.
During an event promoted Thursday as a debate on “inequalities in justice” in Dallas, Texas, Trump warned against labeling “tens of millions of decent Americans as racists or bigots.” And he publicly opposed proposals to remove the names of Confederate military commanders from U.S. military property.
Instead, he advocated for “your president of order and peace,” as he called for harsh tactics against protesters, which he sometimes called “robbers”. He opposed calls to fund police departments and suggested that a senior protester in Buffalo, New York, who was hospitalized after being pushed to the ground by police, was part of a “set-up”. When he evoked Floyd’s name, he usually did so in the context of condemning violent protesters.
Trump suspended live rallies in March because of the coronavirus. Those attending the rally in Tulsa must agree not to sue the campaign if they become infected.
This story has been updated with additional information.