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Stefanik to speak at Trump event

Black leaders raise concerns for Tulsa

Rep. Elise Stefanik (Official congressional photo)

President Donald Trump’s rallies are starting back up, with a campaign event Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik is opening for him.

Stefanik, along with other Republican lawmakers — including Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan — will be traveling to Tulsa.

This is the first Trump rally to be held since February, when the coronavirus that has killed 120,000 Americans was gaining speed around the world.

Tulsa’s top health official Bruce Dart, has said he believes the rally could be a “super spreader” event, as it involves a large amount of people gathering in an indoor arena for several hours. The city announced 96 new coronavirus cases this week, its largest increase in a single day since March.

Stefanik did not respond to a request for comment on what she would talk about, the health officials concerns or the prospect of speaking at the president’s rally before this article’s deadline.

Black community leaders in Tulsa said they fear a large rally by Trump could spark violence, and Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt asked Trump not to visit the site of a race massacre where up to 300 black residents were killed by white mobs in 1921.

Tens of thousands of Trump supporters are expected in Tulsa Saturday for the first of a series of rallies across the country to rev up his reelection campaign. The gathering at the 19,000-seat BOK Center, and at a 40,000-capacity convention center nearby, would overlap a two-day local celebration of Juneteenth, which marks the end of slavery in the country.

Both events are in the city’s downtown area. The Rev. Al Sharpton is among the speakers at the Juneteenth observance in the Greenwood district, where several dozen blocks of black-owned businesses were burned in the massacre. A separate anti-hate rally is set for Saturday night in a Tulsa park about a 30-minute walk away.

Community leaders and organizers say all the events should be peaceful, but worry about the potential for clash involving Trump supporters, participants in several anti-Trump protests planned downtown, and those attending the Juneteenth program. Tulsa experienced several days of large protests after the death of black Minneapolis resident George Floyd May 25, but violence and damage were limited.

“We’re all terribly concerned,” said Rev. Ray Owens, pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Church, a historically black church on the city’s north side. “I’m hearing rumors of people coming from both sides who may be inclined to incite some kind of physical conflict or war of words. That worries me.”

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