Court Allows Trump’s Tulsa Rally to Go Ahead


The ruling is the latest twist in the lead-up to a campaign rally that has become a flash point, as the country grapples with the coronavirus crisis and intensifying calls for racial justice.

ImageSupporters of President Trump outside the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., on Friday.
Supporters of President Trump outside the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., on Friday.Credit...Seth Herald/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Friday afternoon rejected a legal bid to stop President Trump from holding a rally in Tulsa over the weekend, the latest twist in the lead-up to an event that has become a flash point as the country grapples with the coronavirus crisis and intensifying calls for racial justice.

A lawsuit filed by local residents and businesses had demanded that the rally be postponed unless the arena hosting it agreed to enforce social distancing guidelines.

The event, Mr. Trump’s first since the coronavirus pandemic led to widespread national shutdowns, comes as confirmed cases are rising in Tulsa and as the nation celebrates Juneteenth, a holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States.

The holiday has taken on an added significance for many this year as the country grapples with its racist history, a legacy of violence that is painfully significant in Tulsa, the site of a 1921 race massacre in which up to 300 people were killed and hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed when a white mob attacked the black neighborhood.

A series of tweets by Mr. Trump threatened to escalate tensions on Friday, adding divisive rhetoric to the Juneteenth holiday.

Mr. Trump on Friday morning issued a thinly veiled threat to people who want to protest his campaign rally, scheduled for Saturday evening. “Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “It will be a much different scene!”

Later, Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, told reporters that the president did not mean to threaten peaceful protesters. “What he was meaning are violent protesters,” she said.

By Friday afternoon, a representative for Mayor G.T. Bynum of Tulsa said the city had rescinded a three-night curfew that it had announced previously, after Mr. Trump said on Twitter that he had spoken with the mayor, “who informed me there will be no curfew tonight or tomorrow for our many supporters.”

Mr. Bynum, a moderate Republican mayor who is friendly with the Trump campaign, has said he was “grateful” Tulsa was chosen as the host city for Mr. Trump’s comeback rally. He previously said the curfew order was put in place because he had received information that showed that “individuals from organized groups who have been involved in destructive and violent behavior” elsewhere were planning to travel to Tulsa “for purposes of causing unrest around the rally.”

In a keynote speech at the Tulsa Juneteenth Celebration on Friday night, the Rev. Al Sharpton, the well-known civil rights leader, responded to the president’s Friday morning tweet. “Do what you want to do,” he said. “We won’t bend, we won’t bow, we won’t give up. We have fought harder battles than this.”

Mr. Sharpton implored Mr. Trump to speak to protesters’ concerns by pushing for policies that go beyond his recent executive order on police reform, which aimed to incentivize departments to improve standards for the use of force.

“Come to Tulsa tomorrow night and announce something concrete,” Mr. Sharpton said. “Or don’t come at all!”

Vice President Mike Pence spoke to workers at Winnebago Industries in Forest City, Iowa, on Tuesday.Credit...Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Vice President Mike Pence twice refused to say that “black lives matter” during an interview on a Philadelphia television station on Friday, insisting instead that “all lives matter in a very real sense.”

Mr. Pence also said during the interview with WPVI-TV that Americans have cherished the idea that everyone is created equal “from the founding of this nation,” an assertion that ignores the institution of slavery.

The vice president’s comments came on Juneteenth, a holiday that marks the end of slavery in America, and at a time when the country is convulsing in outrage about police violence against African-Americans following George Floyd’s death last month.

In the interview, Mr. Pence called Mr. Floyd’s killing while in Minneapolis police custody “a tragedy,” but his insistence that “all lives matter” will likely appear as a provocation by activists and others who say that phrase fails to acknowledge the specific threats that African-Americans still face at the hands of police officers.

Brian Taff, the news anchor, pressed Mr. Pence on that point: “People are saying, of course all lives matter, but to say the words is an acknowledgment that black lives also matter at a time in this country when it appears that there’s a segment of our society that doesn’t agree. So why will you not say those words?”

The vice president said he does not accept the fact that “there’s a segment of American society that disagrees, in the preciousness and importance of every human life.” He again refused to say that black lives matter.

Mr. Pence is set to arrive on Saturday in Tulsa, Okla., the site of one of the nation’s worst examples of racial violence, where a white mob laid siege to a prosperous black neighborhood in 1921, killing hundreds of people. Mr. Pence will join President Trump for campaign rally Saturday evening.

Video
Video player loading
Millions observed Juneteenth on Friday. The holiday, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, arrived at a moment of national reflection.CreditCredit...Kenny Holston for The New York Times

Millions of Americans observed Juneteenth like never before on Friday as the holiday, which is traditionally celebrated by African-Americans to mark the end of slavery in the country, was propelled into the national spotlight at a time when Americans are wrestling with the impact of racism in many sectors of society.

Although the coronavirus moved some festivities online, Juneteenth events were held around the country, from park celebrations in Flint, Mich., to protests in New York City.

After a day of peaceful demonstrations in Atlanta, gunfire erupted Friday evening near a protest at a busy intersection outside of downtown. According to two witnesses and videos of the confrontation, a white man who was angered by demonstrators blocking an intersection, who were mostly African-American, took a rifle out of his trunk and then accelerated toward one of the protesters, clipping him.

Gunfire broke out immediately afterward, although it was unclear from the videos who was firing. Less than an hour after the incident, the intersection was quiet.

The Atlanta Police Department later said in a statement that they had detained a protester suspected of firing at the vehicle, which was damaged by gunfire. The driver was not injured, the police said.

Across the city, near a vigil by the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by a police officer last week, a woman was shot in the leg late Friday night, authorities said. The shooting is under investigation.

Many corporate employees had Friday off, after Twitter, Nike, Target and other major companies added Juneteenth as a paid holiday this year. And Virginia and New York said that Juneteenth would be a paid holiday for state employees.

On Friday, Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota called on the State Legislature to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday. And Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said that starting next year, Juneteenth would be an official city and school holiday.

Adding to the momentum, John Cornyn, the senior Republican senator from Texas, where Juneteenth originated, announced on Thursday that he planned to introduce a bill to make the day a federal holiday. Four Democrats in the Senate — Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Tina Smith of Minnesota and Ed Markey of Massachusetts — announced a similar proposal on Thursday.

The developments are the latest example of the impact of national protests over the police killings of George Floyd and other black Americans. The consequences have quickly spread across society, roiling institutions, prompting legal reforms and now formalizing Juneteenth as a holiday recognized by a diverse swath of the country.

“This is unprecedented,” said Albert S. Broussard, a professor of history at the Texas A&M University, who said his own employer was allowing nonessential employees to take Juneteenth as a paid holiday. “This moment in time has motivated people to react differently, to behave differently about this, and that’s a good thing.”

On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and read the announcement that all enslaved African-Americans were free, sharing the news with the remote Confederate state about two months after the South surrendered in the Civil War and more than two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Video
Video player loading
Protesters in North Carolina dismantled parts of a Confederate monument late Friday evening near the state capitol in downtown Raleigh, after an earlier attempt was thwarted by the police.CreditCredit...Travis Long/The News & Observer, via Associated Press

In the late hours of Friday evening, statues of Confederate figures were yanked off their pedestals by cheering crowds of protesters in two Southern cities and paraded through the streets.

After several attempts, protesters in Washington toppled and set fire to a statue of Albert Pike, a Confederate general whose monument has been targeted for removal by different groups for decades.

Shortly afterwards, President Trump tweeted that “the D.C. Police are not doing their job as they watch a statue be ripped down & burn. These people should be immediately arrested. A disgrace to our Country!”

Earlier in the evening, in Raleigh, N.C., protesters pulled down the bronze statues of two Confederate soldiers that had been attached to the base of a 75-foot tall monument on the grounds of the State Capitol. Pictures and video from the scene showed people pulling one of the statues off the pedestal, dragging it through the street and then hanging it from a sign pole.

And in San Francisco, videos on social media showed protesters in Golden Gate Park bringing down monuments of Junípero Serra, a Spanish priest who founded some of the first Catholic missions in California, and Francis Scott Key, the writer of the lyrics to the national anthem and a slave owner.

These are just the latest monuments associated with racial oppression to come down across the country, most of them by the orders of authorities but some at the hands of demonstrators.

Protesters have removed or defaced statues of Christopher Columbus from Miami to Boston, toppled statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson — both slaveholders — in Portland, Ore., and pushed authorities to take down Confederate monuments in Alabama.

Vestiges of Confederate memorabilia long thought to be immune to public pressure, such as the Gen. Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Va., and the Mississippi state flag, which features the Confederate battle emblem in its corner, are now the subject of intense debate in state legislatures and in courtrooms.

On Thursday, the portraits of four speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives who served the Confederacy were removed from the Capitol by orders of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Video
Video player loading
The police are moving to terminate Brett Hankison, one of the officers involved in the death of Ms. Taylor, Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville, Ky., announced on Friday.CreditCredit...Erik Branch for The New York Times

As one of three officers who used a no-knock warrant to enter Ms. Taylor’s apartment on March 13, the officer, Brett Hankison, blindly fired 10 rounds into a covered patio door and a window, according to a termination letter released by the Louisville Metro Police Department on Friday.

“I find your conduct a shock to the conscience,” Police Chief Robert J. Schroeder wrote. “I am alarmed and stunned you used deadly force in this fashion. You have never been trained by the Louisville Metro Police Department to use deadly force in this fashion.”

The killing of Ms. Taylor, 26, a black emergency medical technician, has for weeks fueled widespread protests and escalating questions about why further action had not been taken against the officers, who have not been charged. Those questions intensified last week when the police released a four-page incident report of Ms. Taylor’s death, containing minimal details and aberrations, including listing “none” under victim injuries even though officers shot her at least eight times.

The other officers involved in the case — Jon Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove — have been placed on administrative reassignment.

Before being formally fired, Officer Hankison will have the opportunity to respond to the proposed firing, according to the termination letter. It was not immediately clear which lawyer was representing him.

The decision to move forward with criminal charges now rests with the attorney general, Lonita Baker, a lawyer for Ms. Taylor’s family, said. “Based on the content of the letter, it’s our position that there’s enough to move forward with criminal charges against him,” she said.

The attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

The case has drawn fierce scrutiny, leading city officials to ban the use of no-knock warrants, a contentious police practice that allows officers to forcibly enter homes to search them without warning. Officers said they did announce themselves, but Ms. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, said he did not hear an announcement of police — just aggressive banging on the door — when he fired his gun, striking an officer in the leg.

Officers fired back, killing Ms. Taylor.

The police were investigating two men who they believed were selling drugs out of a different house, but a judge also signed a warrant allowing the police to search Ms. Taylor’s residence because the police said they believed that one of the two men had used her apartment to receive packages.

No drugs were found in the apartment, a lawyer for Mr. Walker said.

A law enforcement drone flies over demonstrators in Atlanta this month.Credit...Mike Stewart/Associated Press

The Department of Homeland Security deployed helicopters, airplanes and drones over 15 cities where demonstrators gathered to protest police violence following the death of George Floyd, logging at least 270 hours of surveillance data, far more than previously revealed, according to Customs and Border Protection data.

The department’s dispatching of unmanned aircraft over protests in Minneapolis last month sparked a congressional inquiry and widespread accusations that the federal agency had infringed on the privacy rights of demonstrators.

But that was just one piece of a nationwide operation that deployed resources usually used to patrol the U.S. border for smugglers and illegal crossings. Aircraft filmed demonstrations in New York, Buffalo, Philadelphia and Dayton, Ohio, among other cities, sending video footage in real time to control centers managed by Air and Marine Operations, a branch of Customs and Border Protection.

The footage was then fed into a digital network managed by the Homeland Security Department, called “Big Pipe,” which can be accessed by other federal agencies and local police departments for use in future investigations, according to senior officials with Air and Marine Operations.

Directed to fly no lower than 19,000 feet, the drones can track movements of protesters or looters, direct law enforcement on the ground and see if someone is wearing a backpack or rifle. Stored footage could be accessed later to corroborate investigative findings, such as a witness account that a fire was set at a given time by a small group, or the escape route of a suspect.

“You see an aircraft, you have no idea currently what technologies that aircraft is carrying,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union. “There is something militaristic and dominating about a militarized police aircraft hovering over you when you’re out there protesting police abuse.”

A combination image showing the front and back of the original handwritten Union Army record of an order that brought emancipation to enslaved people in Texas at the end of the Civil War.Credit...National Archives

Archivists in Washington, D.C., made a timely discovery this week: the original handwritten Union Army record of an order that brought emancipation to enslaved people in Texas at the end of the Civil War.

General Order No. 3 was read aloud by a Union officer, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, in Galveston on June 19, 1865, to inform Texans that all enslaved people in the state were free. That date, which became known as Juneteenth, has been celebrated ever since.

But the handwritten record had been buried in a leather-bound book at the National Archives in Washington, with its location largely unknown — even though, for decades, the book has been available to researchers to leaf through upon request.

The discovery was spurred by Michael Davis, a public affairs specialist for the National Archives who was writing a piece about the history of the holiday.

“In light of what has happened recently in our nation with police brutality, I wanted to make sure that we highlighted Juneteenth,” Mr. Davis said in an interview. He asked his colleagues if the archives had any documents from that day in 1865, hoping to find something but not sure that he would.

Trevor K. Plante, the director of archival operations at the National Archives building in Washington, zeroed in on the Union Army records from Texas. And on Thursday, in the stacks on the 10th tier of the building’s west side, he found a leather-bound book with a June 19 entry in neat cursive.

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free,” it said. “This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

Thousands of people marched in downtown Atlanta on Friday to protest police violence against African-Americans.Credit...Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

The Atlanta Police Department released hundreds of pages of records on Friday unfurling the disciplinary histories of the two officers charged this week in connection with the fatal shooting of Rayshard Brooks.

The trove of documents showed that Garrett Rolfe, who has been fired and charged with murder, had few serious disciplinary issues before encountering Mr. Brooks a week ago in a Wendy’s parking lot.

Mr. Rolfe, who joined the police force in 2013, received a written reprimand for a 2016 incident in which he pointed his weapon out of the passenger window of a patrol car while in pursuit of a vehicle, according to the records.

In a statement to Police Department investigators, Mr. Rolfe said he had reason to believe that the people inside the car could be armed and could flee.

“I was not intentionally pointing at any particular occupant in the vehicle,” he said, “but I had my weapon trained on the vehicle and my finger was off the trigger the entire time. I made a split-second decision in a very dynamic situation.”

There were two complaints accusing Mr. Rolfe of racial profiling, but investigations found no evidence supporting the claims. Efforts on Friday to reach the men who lodged the complaints were unsuccessful.

Mr. Rolfe was also reprimanded twice for minor vehicular accidents, according to the records.

The other officer involved in the fatal confrontation with Mr. Brooks, Devin Brosnan, joined the department in 2018 and did not have any previous disciplinary issues, records show.

Officer Brosnan has been charged with aggravated assault and violations of his oath and placed on administrative duty. In a statement, his lawyers called the decision by the Fulton County district attorney to bring the charges “irrational and obviously based on factors which should have nothing to do with the proper administration of justice.”

Mr. Rolfe was charged on 11 counts, including felony murder and aggravated assault, and was denied bond by a judge on Friday. He maintains his innocence. “While Rayshard Brooks’s death was tragic, Officer Garrett Rolfe’s actions were justified under Georgia law,” his lawyer, Noah H. Pines, said in a statement.

People talk under the “Black Wall Street” street sign during the Juneteenth commemoration in Tulsa on Friday.Credit...Chris Creese for The New York Times

Hundreds of people gathered in Tulsa on Friday along Greenwood Avenue — the site of one of America’s worst racist attacks — to celebrate Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates when enslaved black Americans in Texas formally learned of emancipation.

In any year, Juneteenth in Tulsa means something different than it does in other cities, falling against the backdrop of the 1921 white riot that killed an estimated 300 black Tulsans and destroyed the area once known as “Black Wall Street.”

“We’re celebrating the emancipation of slaves, but we’re really celebrating the idea of being black,” said Jacquelyn Simmons, who has lived in Tulsa for 45 years. “We love it and we love us.”

Organizers had planned to cancel their annual Juneteenth celebration amid the national coronavirus pandemic. Then President Trump announced a campaign rally in the city, originally slated to be held on the Friday holiday but later moved to Saturday evening.

With that event looming, what was typically a celebration of resilience transformed into one of defiance. “Black Lives Matter” was painted in bright yellow letters across Greenwood Avenue.

“It’s not really about his rally for us,” said Otis Collins, 51, who drove more than four hours to Tulsa from Dallas. “We want to show defiance to his act, but he’s going to have his rally and do his thing regardless.”

At the celebration on Friday, officially titled “I, too, am America: Juneteenth for Justice,” a racially diverse crowd saw a link between past and present, a through line between the white anger that once set Greenwood Avenue ablaze and the coalition that elected Mr. Trump after eight years of Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president.

Charman Sanders, 70, a black Tulsa resident whose family in the region dates back to 1921, said there was no way to see Mr. Trump’s actions as anything other than “disrespectful.”

Flowers lie on the sidewalk in 2019 at the house in Fort Worth, Texas, where Atatiana Jefferson was killed. Her family intends to turn the house into a headquarters for the Atatiana Project and a gaming center for children.Credit...David Kent/Associated Press

Relatives of black Americans killed by police officers say they are marking this year’s Juneteenth with a renewed sense of purpose: to celebrate the memory of their loved ones and to continue a fight against racial injustice.

The family of Atatiana Jefferson, who was in her home playing video games with her nephew when she was fatally shot through a window by a white Fort Worth police officer last year, plans to host an event Friday at the home where she was killed.

It will be the formal unveiling of the Atatiana Project, an organization aimed at promoting science, technology, engineering and math to young children. Ms. Jefferson, 28, had studied biology in college and had hoped to become a doctor.

Ashley Carr, a sister, said she and her siblings intend to turn the Fort Worth house where Ms. Jefferson was killed into a headquarters for the organization and a gaming center for children.

Ms. Carr said that the last several weeks of protests had affirmed her anger over the death of her sister, who was killed by the officer after a neighbor called a nonemergency line seeking a welfare check. The officer, Aaron Y. Dean, has been charged with murder.

“It actually let me know that I’m not mad by myself,” Ms. Carr said, adding, “It helps with the wound.”

In Tulsa, the family of Terence Crutcher, who was unarmed when he was fatally shot by a white police officer in 2016, has helped to organize the city’s Juneteenth celebration, where thousands are expected to gather for music, poetry and calls for justice.

“We will be rallying with a purpose,” Mr. Crutcher’s sister, Tiffany Crutcher, said in an interview.

Mr. Crutcher, 40, was fatally shot during an encounter with the police, after he could be seen on video raising his hands above his head. The officer, Betty Shelby, who said she thought he may have been reaching for a weapon, was acquitted.

In recent days, the mayor apologized for comments he made playing down the role of race in the Mr. Crutcher’s fatal encounter with the police, and the Tulsa police department has been grappling with growing criticism. The police recently announced an inquiry into the forceful arrest of a black teenager who was accused of jaywalking, and a Tulsa police officer came under fire for a radio interview, in which he said that police officers were “shooting African-Americans about 24 percent less than we probably ought to be, based on the crimes being committed.”

“Even though we commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation, the reality is in 2020, we still aren’t free,” Ms. Crutcher said.

On the eve of Juneteenth, President Trump used a manipulated, fake video and a second, slickly produced, campaign-style ad to accuse the news media of inventing racism where it does not exist.

The pair of videos appeared to be designed to push the idea that Trump supporters are falsely accused of being racists, a message that was echoed by Brad Parscale, the president’s 2020 campaign manager, in an appearance on Fox News.

“They want that moment where CNN or some other fake news media can try to make it look like a Trump supporter is not a loving, caring person,” Mr. Parscale said, referencing the videos.

Mr. Trump tweeted out a video Thursday night that purported to show a clip from CNN in which a black toddler is shown running from a white toddler as ominous music plays in the background. The label, or chyron, at the bottom reads: “BREAKING NEWS: TERRIFIED TODLER RUNS FROM RACIST BABY.”

The Trump video goes on to show that the two children were in fact playing happily together. It ends by saying: AMERICA IS NOT THE PROBLEM. FAKE NEWS IS.”

In fact, the video itself is fake. The CNN chyron — including the misspelled word “todler” — never existed and the original CNN video manipulated in the ad reported about the joy between the two young children.

Twitter flagged the president’s tweet with a “manipulated media” warning that says, “Video being shared of CNN report on toddlers is doctored, journalists confirm.”

The second video that Mr. Trump tweeted Thursday night accuses liberals and the news media of assuming that Trump supporters are racists. It shows a woman posting a video of a white man wearing a Make America Great Hat yelling “go, go” at the black driver of a car.

“My racist neighbor just chased my BLACK Uber driver out of our neighborhood,” the woman writes on a social media site, with the hashtags: MAGA, Racist and Love Trumps Hate.

In the video, her posting goes viral, with more than 1.6 million views and reactions from people blaming Mr. Trump and calling him “a Nazi.”

The video also appears to use a fake CNN chyron saying “WHITE MAN IN MAGA HAT ATTACKS BLACK UBER DRIVER.”

The staged video then reveals that the white man had been helping the driver out of a patch of ice by pushing the car, and was yelling “go, go” so it wouldn’t get stuck again.

Reporting was contributed by Mike Baker, Alan Blinder, Gina Cherelus, Nick Cumming-Bruce, John Eligon, Alan Feuer, Ben Fenwick, Jacey Fortin, Katie Glueck, Emma Goldberg, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Annie Karni, Juliana Kim, Mark Landler, Dan Levin, Sarah Mervosh, Heather Murphy, Campbell Robertson, Michael D. Shear, Matt Stevens, Nikita Stewart and Kate Taylor.