Donald Trump has postponed a rally scheduled for the same day as a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the US.
The rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma had been due to mark Trump’s return to the campaign trail, but he said on Twitter the event had been postponed “out of respect” for the June 19 “Juneteenth” holiday.
White mobs massacred hundreds of African Americans in Tulsa during riots there in 1921.
The original timing and the Tulsa location provoked outrage with critics calling it an insult to the memory of George Floyd, the Black man whose death in police custody two weeks ago sparked global protests.
Following fierce criticism, the rally was moved to June 20.
President Trump is holding a rally in Tulsa on #Juneteenth — the anniversary of when slavery was fully abolished.
— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 11, 2020
“This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists – he’s throwing them a welcome home party,” Senator Kamala Harris tweeted after Trump first announced the rally.
Asked about the protests against police brutality in a Fox News interview aired on Friday, Trump said he wanted to “see really compassionate but strong law enforcement”.
On Wednesday, Trump announced he would resume his campaign rallies in four states – Oklahoma, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina – despite the coronavirus pandemic and rising number of cases in the US.
Although the coronavirus remains a threat, his campaign now feels that the crowds at daily street protests have lifted the political pressure on Trump to avoid large gatherings of his own.
Trump supporters must, however, sign a waiver promising not to sue if they catch COVID-19 at the event, according to his campaign website.
The US is reopening after months of coronavirus lockdown measures, though public health officials have opposed large gatherings like sporting events or concerts, especially indoor gatherings where the
risk of infection is likely higher.