TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) – President Trump heads to Tulsa for a rally Saturday, and with thousands expected to attend, and the National Guard being called in, local businesses aren’t taking any chances.
City officials began closing off streets Thursday afternoon, warning the thousands who flood downtown will need to park blocks away.
But the line of Trump supporters has been growing since Sunday.
“I just love the president,” said Jason of Seattle, Washington. “I love what he’s doing for the country.”
Sue Williams of Tulsa got in line Thursday saying she wanted to make sure she had a front row seat for her first rally.
“Going to be nonstop fun,” she said. “It’s beyond exciting.”
Amidst record-breaking COVID-19 numbers in Tulsa County and the state, The BOK Center asked the Trump campaign for a written plan detailing what health and safety measures will be taken at their facility, including a plan for social distancing.
The campaign has already agreed to check temperature at the door, and provide masks. “Yeah, yeah, we got a couple (masks) of our own,” said John Willard of Wichita, Kansas.
But others suggest the increased numbers are a hoax. “When there was hearsay of Trump coming in, now all of a sudden we have an uprise and a spike in the coronavirus numbers. I question that,” said Tiffany Nixon of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
After weeks of protests in response to the death of George Floyd, and because the rally is the day after the Juneteenth celebration, people don’t know what to expect. Businesses surrounding downtown, including several Quiktrip locations, boarded up their storefronts to prevent possible damage in case tensions lead to conflict.
“We’ll have a positive outcome and there won’t be no altercations or any of that,” said Rev. Mareo Johnson, leader of Black Lives Matter Tulsa.
He is organizing a peaceful Trump protest for 5 p.m. Saturday. He said he’s encouraging anyone who plans on protesting at the BOK Center to instead join the Black Lives Matter protest that will be held a few blocks away at the Franklin Reconciliation Park.
“I highly recommend that we all come together and create our own environment, doing our own thing and where we all get empowered to what the purpose message is,” Rev. Johnson said.
But in case things get out of hand anywhere in the city, Tulsa Police will be standing ready with extra law enforcement, including 250 members of the National Guard, called in by the governor.
In a press release Thursday, the National Guard said, “The Oklahoma National Guard supports the right of every American to peacefully protest and will never be a force used to suppress that right.”
Representatives for the Trump campaign released the following statement:
“We’ve received a letter from arena management and we’re reviewing it. We take safety seriously, which is why we’re doing temperature checks for everyone attending, and providing masks and hand sanitizer. This will be a Trump rally, which means a big, boisterous, excited crowd. We don’t recall the media shaming demonstrators about social distancing – in fact the media were cheering them on.”
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