Support Intelligent, In-Depth, Trustworthy Journalism.
President Trump traveled to Arizona on Tuesday, visiting Yuma to see newly built sections of border wall and then heading to Phoenix for a campaign rally at a church. The venue, located in a coronavirus hot spot, was reportedly filled to capacity, with no social distancing inside and few people wearing masks. Stephanie Sy joins Judy Woodruff to discuss what rally attendees are doing and saying.
As we reported earlier, President Trump traveled to the state of Arizona today.
Our Stephanie Sy is in Phoenix, and she joins me now.
So, hello, Stephanie.
You are just outside of the president's event. Tell us what else you have learned about his visit to Arizona today.
Yes, that's right, Judy.
I am outside the Dream City megachurch here in Phoenix. The president landed in this coronavirus hot spot to hold a rally at this church behind me, which has the capacity of about 3,000 people. The church, I am told, is filled to capacity waiting for the president to speak.
This was billed as an event for students, but we saw much more than students here, really a mix of ages that we saw. And it's 110 degrees out here, so it does feel like a slightly more low-key Trump rally, just handful of vendors, and not the carnival atmosphere that I'm used to seeing at a Trump rally.
Earlier today, the president was near Yuma, Arizona. He had a roundtable with border officials, and the White House had touted that visit as a way for Trump to talk about the 200 miles of border wall that had been built.
In fact, since Trump took office, only three miles of new barrier has been erected — Judy.
So, Stephanie, you told us that you talked to some of the people who waited for hours in line to get in to see the president in this 110-degree heat.
What precautions are being taken around health and around the COVID virus?
Yes. There were people that were waiting for hours in this heat, Judy, to get into the church. That also means that they have been sitting inside that church, with the circulating air, for hours as they're waiting for the president to take the stage.
Some people were wearing masks. I would say about 20 percent were wearing masks in this heat. A lot of people said they would put masks on once they got inside the venue. Some people said they would not put masks on unless they were forced to do so. And a few people really said they were making a political statement by not wearing a mask.
I think the whole COVID thing is kind of like a slippery slope. The left, the government in general, they're trying to see what they can get away with. They see how many people are going to be sheep and wear the masks.
And they're going to see, OK, if we can get away with that, what other rights can we infringe upon?
Now, the Phoenix City Council, Judy, did pass an ordinance just a few days ago requiring people to wear masks in public places.
But the Phoenix mayor says she's not planning to enforce that and hand out citations and $250 fines among the people at the rally, and, of course, not with the president either.
I will say that a local reporter inside that I have been talking to says there is absolutely no social distancing in there, and there is a minimal amount of mask wearing.
Obviously, this mass gathering goes against CDC guidelines. The mayor's statement today also said there really is no safe way to hold a rally like this in this pandemic.
Stephanie, one other thing. We know all this takes place at a moment, a time of widespread public protests over racial injustice, including protests there in Phoenix.
What are some of the president's supporters telling you about all that?
You know, we did speak to at least one person who was sympathetic to the death of George Floyd.
But, overall, what we heard is a focus on those isolated incidents of rioting and looting, including at the Scottsdale mall that happened here a few weeks ago, as opposed to thinking or talking about the legitimate grievances of the Black Lives Matter.
And here is how one Trump supporter we spoke to earlier framed the issue.
It's divided. I don't think it's Donald Trump's fault. I think it's the left. They are definitely pushing narratives that — there's always been police brutality.
It's nothing new. And I think that black people kill black people more often than that, anyway. I think that's our — least of our concerns.
That is a common refrain from people who oppose or don't support the Black Lives Matter movement, Judy, as a way to detract from real incidents of police brutality.
I will say that, earlier today, I spoke to a white family that had come out here as sort of a mini-counterprotest. And they were holding small signs that said "Black Lives Matter." Their children were holding those signs.
And when I asked them about their political persuasion, they, said simply: "We're Christians."
And on that point of protesters, we're not seeing them right here in the vicinity of Dream City Church, but we do know on the perimeter there are several protesters, anti-Trump protesters, that have shown up.
All right, Stephanie Sy reporting from the site of President Trump's visit right now to Phoenix, Arizona.
Thank you, Stephanie.
Watch the Full Episode
Support Provided By:
Support PBS NewsHour:
Subscribe to Here’s the Deal, our politics newsletter for analysis you won’t find anywhere else.
Thank you. Please check your inbox to confirm.
Additional Support Provided By: