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Trump holds rally amid pandemic and protests

Thousands of President Trump’s supporters gathered in downtown Tulsa, OK, for the president’s first rally since March. Attendees, expected to fill the 19,000-seat Bank of Oklahoma Center, have agreed to not sue the campaign or the president if they get sick, despite warnings from health experts. Kendrick Marshall, an assistant editor at Tulsa World joins Hari Sreenivasan for more.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Earlier today, I spoke with Kendrick Marshall, an assistant editor at Tulsa World who is covering the president's visit and the protests.

    First, the mayor seems to want the president here. There are a lots of supporters that have come in town just for this rally. But at the same time, you have public health officials saying that this is not a great idea.

  • Kendrick Marshall:

    Yeah, it's an interesting dichotomy in all this, because during the early stages of the pandemic, when it was really an unknown virus to a lot of America, Mayor Bynum took the lead in the state in issuing shelter-in-place orders, stay at home orders, listening to the science, listening to health officials.

    But this was the president of the United States comes and Donald Trump with coronavirus cases soaring the last two weeks and the alarm being sound by the health officials here, he has pretty much ignored all the warnings and has pretty much said this rally is going to go forward because the president is here.

    Now, I know that any city that hosts the president is likely going to accept the invitation because he's the president, but we're in unique circumstances with coronavirus and its impact across the country, and especially now in Oklahoma, where cases have spurred to over 1800 within the last three weeks.

    So the mayor of Tulsa, Mayor Bynum, has really put himself in a tremendously tough position so far.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Also this week, you saw your police department and authorities go kind of back and forth on how they were preparing and who they were expecting to come to this rally, either to join the president and support him or to stand outside and protest. Where does that stand now?

  • Kendrick Marshall:

    Well, yesterday, the police department here issued a notice that there was going to be a curfew in the area surrounding where the riot was going to be held inside the arena. And then hours later, we got a notice that the curfew was no longer established. And apparently that came from the Secret Service.

    Apparently, whatever intentions they had, they felt that there was no need for a curfew and that they felt like local authorities, as well as federal authorities and the National Guard were going to be here, would be able to handle whatever goes on during and after the rally.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And this is all happening kind of in the shadow of not just Juneteenth, but the 99th anniversary of what happened in Tulsa. So really, Tulsa, Oklahoma, has been in the news for the past month or so in ways that you wouldn't have expected well, a month and a day ago.

  • Kendrick Marshall:

    Right. Yeah. You mentioned the anniversary of the night of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. And then there was the incident by a current police major, who made a radio appearance where he said that African-Americans should be shot more than the data suggests. And then you had a short time later two Tulsa police officers arrest and accost to teenage boys, both African-American, for jaywalking.

    And all of this goes on in a climate that we're in where there's protesting about police brutality and racism. And you have the backdrop of this rally being a mile away from where black Wall Street is and where the Tulsa race massacre happened. And you factor all that in and it creates a very interesting dynamic here in the city right now.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Kendrick Marshall of Tulsa World, thanks so much for joining us.

  • Kendrick Marshall:

    Thank you.

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