The rally came under fire for both its date and its choice of city to host.
Donald Trump has seemingly heeded the call to postpone a campaign rally scheduled for Juneteenth in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
According to The New York Times, the rally has been rescheduled for the following day, June 20th, but will remain in Tulsa, the site of the 1921 Black Wall Street massacre, where a white mob leveled and attacked residents of the wealthiest black community in the United States.
Criticism of the event began almost as soon as it was announced. “This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists, he’s throwing them a welcome home party,” said Senator Kamala Harris, who, along with virtually the whole of Democrats, spoke out against the timing –June 19th marking the emancipation of the last remaining slaves in the confederate south — and location of the president’s rally during a national moment of racial reckoning sparked by the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. Protests against systemic racism and police brutality have raged across the country and the globe since.
In an interview with Fox News, Trump claimed he was unaware of the significance of the date, but insisted through characteristic incoherence that “It’s going to be really a celebration and it’s an interesting date. It wasn’t done for that reason, but it’s an interesting date. But it’s a celebration.”
The choice to move the date of his rally marks a rare instance of the president bowing to backlash. His administration claims Tulsa was chosen as the site for the rally not for its political leanings (the state voted overwhelmingly for Trump in the 2016 presidential election,) but because Oklahoma was one of the earliest states to lift lockdown restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
More rallies are planned for Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina in the weeks and months ahead. However, each of those battleground states is experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 transmission since reopening. It’s unclear how that will influence the campaign’s strategy for rallies moving forward.