The Trump campaign is back to holding rallies as states around the US start to ‘re-open’, and their choice for their first physical rally is already controversial.
While rallies have been impossible for months as a result of coronavirus lockdown, the Trump campaign will be restarting its physical campaigning on 19 June in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
But many would argue this is a bad idea, for multiple reasons. As people have pointed out, Tulsa was the site of one of the most dangerous acts of racial violence in American history in 1921.
A mob of white people attacked an area of Tulsa, known as Black Wall Street, and murdered over 300 black people who lived in the area. 19 June is known as Emancipation Day, as it was the day that slaves in the USA were officially informed that they were free.
The combination of the two – both the fact that the rally is on ‘Juneteenth’ as it is known, and is taking place in Tulsa – have led many to believe that it’s a recipe for disaster.
I say this as a Jewish person who lost family in the camps. Trump holding a rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth is like ho… https://t.co/5orRfTnWIr
Filmmaker and outspoken Trump critic (but not the actor), Morgan Freeman was among those condemning the Trump decision, posting a tweet where he said it’s a dangerous dog whistle to the MAGA fans.
Trump holding a June MAGA rally in Tulsa is racist by design. It’s a dangerous dog whistle supporting the atrocitie… https://t.co/yyrgu1yBTy
— Morgan J. Freeman (@Morgan J. Freeman)
Freeman also added that it’s "racist by design".
Others have pointed out that protests around the US over the death of George Floyd – and many others – are still happening, and that this rally could serve to inflame tensions and make matters worse.
It’s unlikely that Trump and his campaign managers didn’t know about the history of Tulsa, Oklahoma or that they didn’t know about the significance that 19 June has for black people in the US.
As CNN points out, there is no specific reason why Tulsa was picked as the place for the first rally of Trump’s campaign as the restrictions around the pandemic loosen.
Oklahoma is not a swing state, and while it has no limit on gatherings, neither do many other states which don’t have the same contentious history.
UPDATE (20.06.20): A previous version of this article reported that Morgan Freeman, the American actor and film narrator, had claimed that Donald Trump's decision to host a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was "racist by design". In fact, this comment was made by a filmmaker who shares the same name as the actor. The article has been amended accordingly.