UPDATE: Trump issued a threat to protesters Friday morning on Twitter.
“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. It will be a much different scene!” he wrote.
“Big crowds and lines already forming in Tulsa. My campaign hasn’t started yet. It starts on Saturday night in Oklahoma!” he added.
The city of Tulsa has imposed a curfew for the area surrounding the BOK Center, where President Donald Trump is scheduled to host his first campaign rally since the COVID-19 crisis on Saturday night.
Republican Mayor G.T. Bynum, who plans to skip the rally, imposed the last-minute curfew Thursday night after police informed him that “individuals from organized groups who have been involved in destructive and violent behavior in other states are planning to travel to the City of Tulsa for purposes of causing unrest in and around the rally,” according to an order he signed.
The Washington Post reports: It’s unclear whether the Trump supporters who have camped out for days to secure a prime spot to see the president on Saturday will be cleared out as well, but some videos posted on social media appeared to show people leaving the area carrying tents and lawn chairs. People who refuse to leave the area risk arrest, the Tulsa Police Department warned on Twitter. Trump’s rally, his first since the coronavirus crisis shut down public gatherings, has angered some residents who worry the event could cause a large scale outbreak. They have sued the venue manager, demanding that the arena adhere to social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or be canceled.
KUTL-TV, the local ABC affiliate, reported: According to police, they are moving the people who are camped out around the BOK Center. The only people allowed in the area are those who work or live there.
The Tulsa World adds: The curfew affects the area from Archer Street to Sixth Street between Houston Avenue and Boulder Avenue. The people camped outside the BOK Center waiting to get into the rally were being moved out.
With coronavirus cases rising in Oklahoma, Bynum has said he’s honored that Trump chose Tulsa for the rally, but acknowledged the event poses public health concerns.
“I’m not positive that everything is safe,” Bynum said. “Any rational person looking at any large grouping of people would have concerns about this weekend.”
ASM Global, which manages the BOK Center, has asked the Trump campaign for a written plan “detailing the steps the event will institute for health and safety, including those related to social distancing.”
Aside from coronavirus concerns, the curfew begs the question of whether police would forcibly clear peaceful protesters from the area around the arena — as authorities did when Trump decided to visit a church near the White House for a photo op recently.
The curfew runs from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and continues through Sunday morning. Trump’s rally is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday.