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Trump warns ‘protesters, anarchists & agitators’ they face a ‘much different scene’ at his Oklahoma rally

Trump warns ‘protesters, anarchists & agitators’ they face a ‘much different scene’ at his Oklahoma rally
President Donald Trump has warned any “protesters, anarchists” and “agitators” who show up at his Oklahoma rally that they’ll be met with a very different response than police have shown during the George Floyd protests elsewhere.

Trump, who is due to hold his first political rally since the beginning of the pandemic on June 20, tweeted on Friday that “any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes” who head to the Oklahoma venue will be treated differently than they have been “in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis.”

New York’s police and mayor have been criticized over their handling of looting which broke out in the city during Black Lives Matter protests, while a group of anarchists blocked off an area in Seattle which they proclaimed as police-free. Minneapolis City Council has moved to disband its police department in response to the death of George Floyd in custody there last month – an event which ignited the current wave of protests.

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The president’s handling of the protest movement and its underlying grievances about police brutality and systemic racism has been under intense public scrutiny for weeks. At one point, a crowd of peaceful protesters were dispersed by police near the White House, apparently to clear a path for Trump to visit a nearby church for a photo op. Later, Trump was criticized on social media and by some mainstream media outlets when he was mistakenly perceived to have said that George Floyd was looking down from heaven in appreciation of falling US unemployment rates.

Friday’s tweet from Trump ahead of the rally provoked contrasting responses on social media, with some approving of his “Law and Order” approach to dealing with potential troublemakers. Others took his words as an attack on free speech, interpreting Trump’s message as “threatening violence against peaceful protestors.”

Some users even pointed out another controversy around holding a huge public gathering: the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Tulsa rally was rescheduled from its original date of June 19 due to an earlier public outcry over its historical associations. The date is commemorated for the day in 1865 when Texas became the last Confederate state to comply with President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery. Tulsa was the site of a massacre in 1921, when hundreds of black residents were killed by white locals. The decision to have a rally on June 19 in Tulsa has been seen by some as sending a cryptic anti-black message.

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Trump’s warning tweet follows the rise of a nationwide protest movement sparked by the death of Floyd, an African American man who died in police custody after a Minneapolis officer pressed his knee onto his neck for around eight minutes. The subsequent massive marches against police brutality and racism have been largely peaceful, but some turned violent with protesters clashing with cops, and looting breaking out in some cities.

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