Trump warns protesters to face 'different scene' at his Oklahoma rally

Reuters
New York, New York, United States of America Published: Jun 19, 2020, 11:23 PM(IST)

Donald Trump Photograph:( AFP )

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The rally is Trump's first major re-election event in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic that shuttered much of the country and comes amid weeks of civil unrest over the treatment of African Americans and growing protests over racism and policing.

US President Donald Trump on Friday threatened unspecified action against any protesters at his weekend Tulsa, Oklahoma, re-election rally in a warning that his campaign said was not directed at peaceful demonstrators.

"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!" Trump tweeted.

Marc Lotter, a spokesman for Trump's campaign, said Trump was referring to agitators and not peaceful protesters.

"The president supports peaceful protests and people who are exercising their First Amendment rights," Lotter told MSNBC in an interview following the tweet. "If we see what we've seen in other cities with rioting, looting, setting buildings on fire and physical violence, then that's going to be something that's going to be met by police."

The rally is Trump's first major re-election event in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic that shuttered much of the country and comes amid weeks of civil unrest over the treatment of African Americans and growing protests over racism and policing.

Trump faced sharp backlash over a tweet during protests following the recent death of George Floyd, an African-American man in Minneapolis, that said "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." The phrase evoked a white segregationist who was Miami mayor in the 1960s, though the president later said he was unaware of its origins.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist who was scheduled to keynote a Juneteenth event in Tulsa later on Friday, called Trump's tweet "provocative" and "disrespectful," especially following the recent deaths of Floyd and another African-American man, Rayshard Brooks, in Atlanta.

"To have a threat like that you're provoking an incident, and you're provoking an interaction that is unnecessary," Sharpton told MSNBC in a separate interview.

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