Democrats hammered President Trump over the time and location of his next campaign rally – the first since events were put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic -- which is set for June 19 in Tulsa, Okla.
June 19, also known as Juneteenth, is a day commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. Tulsa was the site of a major anti-black riot and massacre in 1921 where a white mob killed dozens of black people and destroyed black-owned businesses. Critics are accusing Trump of sending a negative message to black Americans at a time when race relations are at the forefront of the national conversation after George Floyd's death.
“Tulsa was the site of the worst racist violence in American history,” Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., said. “The president’s speech there on Juneteenth is a message to every Black American: more of the same.”
Others accused Trump of sending that message intentionally.
“99 years ago a white mob massacred hundreds of Black people in the Greenwood District of Tulsa,” Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., tweeted. “The most racist President of my lifetime knows exactly what message he’s sending when he goes there on Juneteenth.”
Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, said the decision to hold the rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth “is more than a slap in the face to African Americans; it is overt racism from the highest office in the land.”
Former Hillary Clinton adviser Zac Petkanas called the timing a “dog whistle for white supremacists,” while political strategist and Virginia Democratic National Committee member Atima Omara said, “Forget dog whistle, this is an air raid siren.”
When asked whether it was appropriate for Trump to hold a rally in Tulsa on that day, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that “the African-American community is very near and dear to his heart,” that “it is a meaningful day to him” and that the president “plans to share some of the progress made as we look forward at more that needs to be done, especially as we’re looking at this police reform.”
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale also appeared to counter critics of the timing and location.
“As the Party of Lincoln, Republicans are proud of what Juneteenth represents and the Emancipation Proclamation,” Parscale tweeted. “@realDonaldTrump has a solid record of success for Black Americans. It’s @JoeBiden who has the horrible record of racial division and condescension. Facts matter.”