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Trump's decision to hold rally on Juneteenth stirs controversy

Trump campaign to resume rallies
Trump campaign to resume rallies 04:24

Editor's note: On Friday night, President Trump rescheduled his rally for June 20. Read the latest news here


President Trump will hold his first campaign rally in months on June 19, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Mr. Trump's decision to hold a rally on the date commonly known as "Juneteenth" has stirred controversy, particularly since the event will take place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a race massacre occurred nearly one hundred years ago.

In an interview with Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner which aired on Friday, Mr. Trump commented on the timing of his rally, saying it would be a "celebration."

"Think about it as a celebration. My rally is a celebration. We're starting — in the history of politics, I think I can say, there has never been any group or any person that has had rallies like I did," Mr. Trump said, touting the size of his campaign events.

Some Democrats have raised concerns about the rally being held in Tulsa. In 1921, white mobs attacked and razed a prosperous black neighborhood in Tulsa known as "Black Wall Street," resulting in the destruction of property and dozens of deaths.

"This isn't just a wink to white supremacists — he's throwing them a welcome home party," Senator Kamala Harris said in a tweet.

However, the president's supporters insist that the timing and location of the rally were deliberate decisions. Katrina Pierson, senior adviser to the Trump campaign, said in a statement Thursday that "Republicans are proud of this history of Juneteenth." Pierson also noted that former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, held a fundraiser on Juneteenth last year.

Paris Dennard, the senior communications adviser of Black Media Affairs for the Republican National Committee and co-chair of the "Black Voices for Trump" campaign coalition, told CBS News that the campaign and the RNC are "well aware of the 99th anniversary of the destruction of black Wall Street and the Tulsa massacre."

"It is not falling on deaf ears, the historical significance of the destruction of black Wall Street," Dennard said. "The White House, the RNC and the campaign are well aware of the historical significance of Tulsa and Juneteenth."

The Democratic National Committee Black Caucus said in a statement that the Trump campaign "knows exactly what they're doing" by choosing to hold the rally on Juneteenth in Tulsa.

"They know this history but still have decided to press on and hold a Trump rally, where confederate imagery and nostalgia of a virulent racial past are commonplace, on that specific date in that specific place for one reason: They don't care," the statement said.

Mr. Trump's rally comes as protests have roiled the nation in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed in police custody. Protesters have demonstrated against police brutality and racial violence in cities across the country for weeks.

Meanwhile, a white major at the Tulsa Police Department said Monday that systemic racism in policing "just doesn't exist," according to Public Radio Tulsa. The major, Travis Yates, argued that black Americans face police violence more often than other demographics because they're committing more crimes.

"If a certain group is committing more crimes, more violent crimes, and law enforcement is having to come into more contact with them, then that number is going to be higher," Yates said.

In a statement responding to Yates' comments, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said the major's words "goes against everything we are trying to achieve in community policing."

"He does not speak for my administration, for the Tulsa Police Department, or the City of Tulsa. His comments are under review by the Chief's Office. And if he didn't mean to make the statement in the way it has been received, he owes Tulsans a clarification and an apology," Bynum wrote on his Facebook page.

Nicole Sganga contributed to this report.

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