Trump’s decision to hold his first campaign rally in months on vacation was met with widespread criticism amid national anger after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers and nationwide protests over police brutality and racial inequality.
“We previously set our #MAGA Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19 – a big deal,” Trump tweeted. “Unfortunately, this will happen on the nineteenth anniversary day. Many of my African-American friends and supporters have continued to suggest that we consider changing the date to respect this holiday, and by taking into account this important occasion and all that I have decided to move our march to Saturday, June 20 in order to fulfill their requests. “.
Earlier on Friday, Trump denied in an interview with Fox News that the rally was deliberately scheduled for that date in Tulsa, and instead said it should be considered a “celebration.”
“It is an interesting date. It has not been done for this reason, but it is an interesting date,” he said.
But given Trump’s history of racist pronouncements, including his embrace of the sidewalk movement, many have instead seen the upcoming campaign event as an invitation to rally white fanatics. California Democrat Kamala Harris described the event as a “home welcome party” for them.
Floyd’s death in police custody renewed discussions about race in America, although Trump did not make a speech about race and largely refused to acknowledge the concerns expressed by the protesters.
At an event promoted as discussing “differences in justice” in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday, Trump warned against describing “tens of millions of respected Americans as racists or fanatics.” He has publicly opposed proposals to remove the names of Confederate military leaders from US military assets.
Instead, he has defended himself as “the head of your law and order” by calling for tough tactics against the demonstrators, whom he sometimes described as “thugs”. He opposed calls to cut funding to police departments and suggested that an elderly protester in Buffalo, New York, who was hospitalized after police officers pushed him to the ground, was part of “residency”. When he raised the name Floyd, he usually did so in the context of condemning violent protesters.
Trump stopped live campaign marches in March because of the coronavirus. Those present at the Tulsa march must agree not to prosecute the campaign if they are injured.
This story has been updated with additional background information.
Maegan Vazquez of CNN contributed to this report.