TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) – A win in court for the Trump campaign means full steam ahead for Saturday’s rally in Tulsa, while other safety concerns persist amid questions about possible violence from outsiders in the city.
“I’ve got to be first in line, I’ve got to make sure I get inside the building to see the rally,” said Zach Moushon of Skiatook, Oklahoma.
As many people as can pack inside the BOK Center and the Cox Center are assured access now that the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled against a legal challenge that would have required social distancing inside the arena, despite record-breaking COVID-19 numbers in the state.
“This is the best place to be and we really have to get America open again,” said Trump Campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh. “A big loud boisterous trump rally will be a signal to the rest of the country that we have to get things moving again.”
At the same time the decision came down, Dr. George Monks, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, released a statement urging social distancing in any large event planned for the weekend. The statement said in part, “Tulsa officials have said that the eyes of the world are on us this weekend due to the large events planned in Tulsa. We agree, but also caution the eyes of the world will continue to look at Oklahoma for the next few weeks as COVID-19 test results come in. We can either be an example of how to hold safe events during a pandemic or serve as a cautionary tale.”
Thursday, Trump tweeted that the curfew imposed by the Tulsa mayor Thursday night will be rescinded Friday and Saturday night.
Those camping in front of the BOK Center days ahead of the rally were moved to a police cordoned-off perimeter around the arena.
“Seemed like it kind of was a shot at us to kind of like discourage us and everything,” said Mark Lawson of Guthrie, Oklahoma.
The curfew was a safety measure the mayor said in his proclamation was in response to information that people “who have been involved in destructive and violent behavior in other states are planning to travel to the city of Tulsa” to cause trouble over the weekend.
‘Everybody here has everybody’s back. I literally am not afraid of anything right now,” Lawson said.
Thursday morning, the president tweeted a warning, “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!”
News 4 received calls from viewers calling the tweet threatening and provocative.
Sen. James Lankford said he was surprised the president grouped “protesters” with the other groups in the tweet.
“Obviously those are different groups of people. There are protesters out there that are peacefully protesting, that’s a constitutional right,” Sen. Lankford said.
However, Murtaugh insisted Trump was only talking about those who would be violent.
“The First Amendment does not guarantee the right to burn down somebody’s building, that’s what the president is talking about,” Murtaugh said. “He does not want that to happen here in Tulsa and if he has anything to say about it, it won’t.
Black Lives Matter Tulsa leaders are encouraging planning to protest the president at the BOK Center to instead join the Black Lives Matter Trump Protest at 5 p.m. about a mile away at the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park at 321 N. Detroit Ave., Tulsa.