Protesters clash with Trump fans in Oklahoma as thousands await president’s first rally since virus but few wear masks – The Sun

PROTESTERS and followers of President Donald Trump have verbally clashed in Tulsa ahead of the president's Oklahoma rally on Saturday evening.

Thousands of "Make America Great Again" supporters had gathered hours before Trump was scheduled to take the stage for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak hit earlier this year.

Hours before the rally was set to begin at 8pm ET at the BOK Center, six staffers for Trump's re-election campaign tested positive for coronavirus.

The campaign's communications director, Tim Murtaugh, said in a statement: “Per safety protocols, campaign staff are tested for COVID-19 before events."

"Six members of the advance team tested positive out of hundreds of tests performed, and quarantine procedures were immediately implemented.”

Pictures from 8am on Saturday showed a huge number of people wearing red, white, and blue and MAGA hats — nearly 12 hours before the rally was set to begin.

Supporters, some of whom have camped out for days, filled several roads in downtown Tulsa, all eager to hear Trump's speech.

However, protesters have already clashed with the Trump fans lining the streets amid ongoing racial tensions following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.

One protester named Sheila Buck, who was seen sitting on a sidewalk wearing an "I Can't Breathe" shirt — referencing Floyd's final words before he died after a white police officer kneeled on the back of his neck for nine minutes on May 25 — was arrested by Tulsa police.

The woman claimed she had a ticket to the rally, but regardless, was removed from the area for "trespassing," police said.

City workers erected a high metal fence on Friday to completely barricade the Trump rally site, but tempers flared after several local residents confronted members of the Trump faithful who were shouting religious messages through bullhorns.

Abrienne Smith squared off with several members of the Trump crowd, talking about the recent killings of African Americans.

Smith told a reporter she did it for her Black son.

“I am worried about him. He’s four. I am scared for his life because of stuff like this,” she said while pointing at the Trump supporters.

Earlier, two passengers in a car drove past the Trump supporters lining the sidewalk, screaming, "F**k Trump!"

Another woman in the car, with her head out of the window, addressed the supporters, saying: "Y'all support racists? So y'all are racist too!"

Trump supporters shouted back that she was "racist."

The National Guard was activated on Friday ahead of the rally and has blocked off streets to maintain order around the venue.

Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin said that the 250 Guardsmen will be used as a "force multiplier" to help secure safety zones.

They will be unarmed but will carry shields, batons, and pepper stray for their own protection, according to a Guard spokesman.

The indoor rally, at Tulsa's 19,000-person capacity BOK Center, comes just days after the city and the state of Oklahoma experienced a surge in coronavirus cases.

Yet very few of the supporters were visible wearing face masks — despite the coronavirus death toll in the US topping 120,000.

On Friday, Oklahoma's Supreme Court rejected a request to require everyone attending Trump's rally to wear a face mask and maintain social distancing.

The Trump campaign, however, said it was "safety serious," as organizers are set to provide masks, hand sanitizers and will be doing temperature checks for all attendees.

Vehicle traffic has been blocked off of some roads in anticipation of the mass gathering.

Tulsa's Republican mayor, GT Bynum, initially established a curfew around the BOK Centre ahead of the rally — but he later revoked it at the request of the Secret Service.

Bynum's order said crowds of 100,000 or more were expected to show up, and Brad Parscale, Trump's campaign manager, said those who can't get into the area will attend a "festival" outside.

The Oklahoma rally marks the public restart of Trump's 2020 campaign as coronavirus restrictions across the country begin to loosen.

But the Tulsa talk also comes after weeks of demonstrations, unrest, and violence spurred by a series of controversial police killings — and protests over racial inequality.

Bynum said citizens with more sinister aims were also filtering into his city, leading him to declare a civil emergency and imposed a last-minute curfew near the BOK arena — which has now been overturned.

More than one million people have registered online for the event, according to the Trump campaign.

Trump tweeted on Friday ahead of the event: "Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis."

"It will be a much different scene!"

Trump has been highly critical of several local governments and how they've handled the protests.

While the majority of the demonstrations have been peaceful, many big cities have struggled to contain the crowds when looting, destruction or violence has broken out.

Heightening tensions, Trump's event is being held just blocks from the site of one of the worst racial massacres in US history — and comes in the wake of nationwide protests over the death of Floyd.

On Friday, Trump told Axios "we're going to have a wild evening tomorrow night at Oklahoma."

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