U.S. President Donald Trump has announced the postponement of an election rally planned for Tulsa, Oklahoma, on 19 June, the day on which the abolition of slavery is commemorated in the United States.
The announcement of the holding of the rally, on the symbolic day and, moreover, in a city which was the scene of some of the worst racial riots in U.S. history, had drawn widespread condemnation.
Trump said on Friday on Twitter that the meeting, which was scheduled to relaunch his reelection campaign, would be postponed “out of respect” for the June 19 date, known as “Juneteenth” in the USA, and what it represents. He did not elaborate.
His detractors had slammed the choice of Tulsa as a provocation, coming as it did in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a policeman and the massive demonstrations and police violence that followed.
Reacting on Twitter to the initial announcement, Los Angeles Times daily had noted on 11 June that the rally “will occur on Juneteenth Day, when Americans commemorate the end of slavery, in a city that was home to an infamous 1921 massacre of Black people, one of the worst racial atrocities in the nation’s history.”
“Nearly 300 black people died” in the “Tulsa Race Massacre [which] took place in May of 1921 when, for 18 hours, white mobs raced through the city’s ‘Black Wall Street’ tossing Molotov cocktails, torching churches and hospitals,” the daily recalled.
“This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists – he’s throwing them a welcome home party,” U.S. Senator Kamala Harris had commented on Twitter on Thursday, one day after Trump announced that he would resume his campaign, interrupted by the novel Coronavirus, with major rallies in Oklahoma, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina – even though the pandemic is far from over in the United States.
His campaign officials feel the massive anti-racism demonstrations following Floyd’s death show that people are not afraid of rallies, so there is no reason not to resume the campaign.
Participants in the rallies will, however, have to sign a document stating that they would not take any legal action if they are infected with COVID-19 after attending them.
Rallies are one of Trump’s favorite ways of mobilising his base. For the moment, he trails Democratic hopeful Joe Biden in the latest opinion polls ahead of the 3 November presidential elections.