US President Donald Trump has warned of a crackdown on “any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes" who show up at his Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally on Saturday, suggesting any demonstrators would be dealt with harshly.
“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,” Trump tweeted Friday. “It will be a much different scene!”
Trump’s threat comes as he continues to attack people who have been protesting against police brutality and racism in the United States since the police killing of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25.
Trump has threatened to deploy troops to crush demonstrators and staged a photo op at a church near the White House after law enforcement fired tear gas and pepper rounds at peaceful protesters from the area.
Trump has slammed Democratic leaders in New York, Seattle and Minneapolis for not harshly cracking down on protests, some of which have turned unruly.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Friday that Trump was referring to "violent protesters" in his tweet.
“What the president is noting is that there were inexcusable scenes that we saw play out in New York and Seattle and Minneapolis and that we would not see Tulsa, Oklahoma, look that way,” McEnany told reporters.
Critics have described Trump’s response to protests as “woeful” and slammed his attempt at police reform that could not address systemic racism.
In a Rose Garden ceremony on Tuesday, the Republican president signed an executive order on police reform after weeks of protests over the brutal death in custody of an unarmed black man and widespread calls for action against such police behavior.
Trump issued an executive order that would discourage police from using chokeholds and call for a National Database that tracks officers who use excessive force.
But he faced criticism as critics say the order fell far short of the demands of Black Lives Matter activists seeking fundamental change.
Activists and lawmakers have been wanting an outright ban on chokeholds with no exception and on no-knock warrants, among other things.
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