In Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday, President Trump held his first campaign rally since the start of the pandemic. Despite predicting a turnout of tens of thousands of supporters, the Tulsa Fire Department says attendance was about 6,200 — less than a third of the capacity of the 19,000-seat arena. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence canceled a planned address to an overflow crowd because there was no one there.
Part of the reason for the low turnout may be attributable to TikTok users and K-pop fans, who said they flooded the Trump campaign with ticket reservations prior to the event, with no plans of attending.
During his speech, Trump again referred to COVID-19 with the racist terms “Chinese virus” and “Kung flu.” He also lamented that he doesn’t get credit for “sav[ing] hundreds of thousands of lives.” At another point, he said a million lives. This is Trump speaking about the issue of testing.
President Donald Trump: “They call me. They say, 'The job you're doing’ — here’s the bad part. When you test a — when you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, 'Slow the testing down, please.'”
Prior to the rally, six Trump campaign staffers working on the event tested positive for the coronavirus.
Protesters demonstrated outside the event. One demonstrator, a 62-year-old art teacher and grandmother named Sheila Buck, was handcuffed and arrested at the request of the Trump campaign, even though she had reserved a ticket. Buck, who says she was inspired to protest after years of witnessing her Black students suffer from racism, says she plans to sue the city, the police department and the Trump campaign. President Trump’s son Eric Trump also spoke at the event, where he referred to Black Lives Matter protesters as “animals.”
The family of late singer Tom Petty issued a cease-and-desist letter after his hit song “I Won’t Back Down” played at the Tulsa rally. “Tom Petty would never want a song of his used for a campaign of hate. He liked to bring people together,” the family said in a statement.
Trump is planning to go ahead with a rally Tuesday at a megachurch in Phoenix, Arizona, despite a request from the city’s mayor to reconsider due to the state’s surge in coronavirus cases. Phoenix has just begun requiring residents to wear face masks in public spaces, but the city’s mayor says the policy will not be enforced at Trump’s indoor rally.