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Trump supporters camp out in line overnight for his rally in Tulsa

Rally continues as OK battles coronavirus
Rally continues as OK battles coronavirus 02:30

Tulsa, Oklahoma — Trump supporters camped out overnight as they waited in line to attend the president's Saturday night rally in Tulsa. People who planned on attending seemed unfazed by the threat of the coronavirus, even though thousands are expected to gather in the Bank of Oklahoma Center for the first campaign rally President Trump has held since March.

In a line curving round the security perimeter, supporters, predominantly white and many of them male, camped out underneath tents, umbrellas, ponchos and Trump 2020 flags, withstanding intermittent torrential downpour. Some dried out socks and shoes on the sidewalk in the aftermath of a particularly powerful shower.

Aside from a few scuffles, the scene on Friday resembled a sort of neighborhood block party, with people from different states mingling on the sidewalk or guarding places in line as new friends took shifts drying off inside. 

Vendors sold everything from MAGA hat keychains to "Trump 2020, No Bullsh**" flags, which seemed to be very popular.

Donald Trump Holds Campaign Rally In Tulsa
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather to attend a campaign rally at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Getty Images

A silent protester in an N95 mask with a sign reading "don't sacrifice your health to massage his ego," stood three blocks away from a man slinging a bullhorn and a "Jesus says: You must be born again" banner.

Meanwhile, groups gathered around reporters for One America News Network and Breitbart, singing and chanting the names of their news organizations. A truck blasting music and waving a "black lives matter" sign drove donuts around the loop of camped out Trump fans. "All lives matter!" supporters lining the street called back. "Baby lives matter!" one countered. "Stop killing babies!" a third said.

Not many wore face coverings, though some supporters donned bandanas around their necks, and a few kept masks in hand. The Trump campaign will provide masks for attendees, but wearing masks will be optional. More than one told CBS News they'd wear a red, white and blue face mask in the arena tomorrow. The majority said they would not don a face covering unless forced.

Sixty-three year old Sherrie Wes shook her head when asked if she was concerned for her health. "No. I had the H1N1 flu. That would've liked to kill me," the former political operative from Fayetteville, Arkansas said. "Plus, exposure's the best thing for an immune system. I don't wear those masks. Unless its mandatory to put in some place, I'm not going to put it on." 

Wes said she has only voted for two Republican presidential candidates in her life: Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan. She voted for President Barack Obama in 2008, but thinks his former vice president, Joe Biden, is being "elderly abused."

"To be honest with you, I feel sorry for him," Wes said about Biden, who is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. "I think he has dementia. And I think it's elderly abuse to put a man on camera who is so sick. You know what? My mom's got dementia. I've lived with it for 30 years. We've learned dementia. He's got dementia. He can't remember half of what he says. He can't get a full sentence out without stuttering. He's ill."

Joshua Morgan, a writer from Bay City, Michigan, drove several hundred miles to Tulsa for inspiration on a fictional book he's writing. He vowed to wear a mask inside the arena and felt the Trump campaign should have mandated it. "The air doesn't circulate well in there," he said, gesturing to the arena. "It's recycled."

That's not his only gripe. Morgan compared Trump to "a king" and "JFK" but felt he'd let people down along the southern border. "I just think that he needs to get this wall built. All the money we've spent on it – he needs to make sure the people know where that money is being spent."

Tulsan brothers Trece and Tom Todd – both in their late 50s – said they didn't plan to wear masks inside the arena. The former, a working diesel truck mechanic, bemoaned seeing so many friends on Facebook pushing others to stay home. "They don't understand. They're getting paid somehow. But others, they've lost their livelihood. Lost their jobs. Lost their businesses. They've got children to feed. How can you sit back and act like that's not a big deal? It's a big deal."

"It's so stupid," Tom Todd, a retired welder, echoed. "This really hurt the oil and gas production. Welding is more or less connected to gas."

Asked what he'd like to see at the rally from the president, Trece Todd responded, "just unity." He paused. "I think that's what's not being said in the liberal media. That's why we have all the crap that's going on right now. Because you can't get the truth anymore." He sighed. "That's why it's so important for us to show up to these rallies. Because they can't lie about the numbers. The [media] can say whatever they want about Black Lives Matter and Antifa and the Democratic Party. But when you have over a million people request to come to one rally, that means something. And we've got people from all over the place."

A different celebration was taking place two miles north in the primarily black Greenwood District. Greenwood, also known as "Black Wall Street," was the site of one of the country's worst race massacres in 1921, when white mobs razed the neighborhood and killed hundreds of black citizens.

A diverse crowd danced to a live DJ, grilled up food and sold "black lives matter" t-shirts, commencing a celebration for Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, which was formerly canceled due to the coronavirus. The day's events were defiantly revived following the announcement of Mr. Trump's trip. 

Amandella Perry brought her young children out to the festivities to teach them about community and fellowship. She repeatedly called the president's visit "insulting." Perry added, "It's just disrespectful. It's intentional, I believe," she said of the timing.

Attendees stressed that Juneteenth in Tulsa meant a decades-long tradition passed down through generations of black Oklahomans. "This is my history. My family grew up and worked from Tulsa. Where I stand, this is our history," Chris Harvey told CBS News. "You cannot grow up in Tulsa, and not understand this. Today I celebrate that knowing of our history, knowing where I stand."

Harvey chose his words carefully when probed about the president. "Man, Trump is a human. I don't agree with a lot of things he says or does. But I'm a believer." He sighed, adding, "At the end of the day, I got to pray for him."

Grace Segers contributed to this report.

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