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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/17/20

"Disruptor on Road to Reconciliation": Trump Doubles Down on Rally in Tulsa, Site of 1921 Massacre

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President Donald Trump says he will push ahead with a massive campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday, even as COVID cases are surging there as the state reopens. Trump delayed the rally by one day after it was originally scheduled for June 19, Juneteenth, a celebration marking the emancipation of enslaved people. Tulsa is also the site of one of the deadliest massacres in U.S. history, when a white mob in 1921 killed as many as 300 people in a thriving African American business district. "The rally is troubling to a lot of people because of both the venue, Tulsa, and because of the timing," says Hannibal B. Johnson, attorney and author of "Black Wall Street: From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa's Historic Greenwood District."

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today's show in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where President Donald Trump will host a massive indoor campaign rally Saturday, despite concerns that the gathering will lead to a surge in COVID-19 cases in a state where the virus is already alarmingly on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Oklahoma has seen a 7.7% increase in COVID cases the largest in the country.

Tulsa's health director said he wished the president would postpone the rally, the first since the outbreak of the coronavirus in the U.S. in March, due to concerns about the virus. The mayor has also said he doesn't want it there now. Two Oklahoma lawyers have sued in an attempt to halt the rally, saying the event will endanger the Tulsa community.

Despite public health experts' warnings against large indoor gatherings, the Trump administration is moving forward with plans to fill the 19,000-seat arena for the rally, with tens of thousands more in the nearby convention center. Vice President Mike Pence, who will attend the rally, falsely claimed that, in a very real sense, Oklahoma had flattened the curve of COVID infections. This is Trump speaking Monday.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Oklahoma's at a very low number. They've done really fantastic work. They have a new -- a pretty new, magnificent arena, as you probably have heard. And we're getting exact numbers out, but we're either close to or over 1 million people wanting to go. We have a 22,000-seat arena, but I think we're going to also take the convention hall next door, and that's going to hold 40,000. So we'll have 22,000 plus 40,000, which would mean that we'd have over 900,000 people that won't be able to go, but hopefully they'll be watching.

AMY GOODMAN: The Trump campaign is requiring attendees to his rally to sign a waiver absolving the campaign of liability if an attendee contracts COVID-19, but they are not requiring the attendees to wear masks, in contravention of the CDC.

This comes as President Trump also faces outrage for choosing Tulsa, Oklahoma, as the location of his first rally amidst the nationwide uprising against racism and police brutality. The Trump administration rescheduled the rally to Saturday after originally announcing it would be held this Friday. That's June 19th, or Juneteenth, a celebration of African Americans' liberation from slavery.

But Tulsa is also the site of one of the deadliest massacres in U.S. history. In 1921, 99 years ago this month, a white mob attacked a Black neighborhood in Tulsa, killing as many as 300 African Americans. Over two days, white mobs set fire to homes, businesses and churches in Greenwood, a thriving African American business district known at the time as "Black Wall Street." When the smoke cleared, the area lay in ruins.

This is an excerpt from the History Channel documentary The Night Tulsa Burned, which features some of the survivors who were just children when the attack occurred. This is George Monroe, followed by Juanita Burnett Arnold and Ernestine Alpha Gibbs.

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