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President Donald Trump promised attendees of the much-disputed Tulsa rally on Saturday a "wild evening" after it got the go-ahead by Oklahoma's Supreme Court on Friday.
Trump tweeted Friday what appears to be a threat of harsh treatment for people who might protest in Oklahoma, where he has a campaign rally planned for the weekend.
When asked about whether his supporters are required to wear face coverings to the event, the president told Axios: "I recommend people do what they want."
In response to the safety concerns, the Trump campaign said that they will do temperature checks and offer hand sanitizers and free masks at the event but that they won't be mandatory.
The rally has faced much scrutiny, including outcry about it being held on Juneteenth weekend and in Tulsa, which saw one of the incidents of racial violence in US history.
President Donald Trump promised his supporters were in for a "wild evening" on Saturday after the much-disputed Tulsa rally was given the all-clear by Oklahoma's Supreme Court.
In an Axios interview released on Friday night, the president said that masks at the event wouldn't be mandatory, describing them as "a double-edged sword."
When asked if he recommended people wear them at the event, he replied: "I recommend people do what they want. We're going to have a wild evening tomorrow night at Oklahoma."
On Friday, Trump tweeted to protesters and "lowlifes" ahead of his Saturday rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, promising "a much different scene" to other hotspots of protest like New York, Seattle or Minneapolis.
"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.
Speaking to Axios, Trump defended the tweet. He said: "That's got to be the least controversial of my tweets."
Trump's tweet came on Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the freeing of Black slaves in the US.
Trump's rally — his first within the coronavirus pandemic — had originally been planned for Juneteenth but was moved back one day after widespread criticism.
Tulsa's mayor, GT Bynum, imposed a curfew around the venue on Thursday, citing recent "civil unrest." The city's curfew was lifted on Friday afternoon.
The mayor said in a statement on Friday: "Last night, I enacted a curfew at the request of Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin, following consultation with the United States Secret Service based on intelligence they had received. Today, we were told the curfew is no longer necessary so I am rescinding it."
"Enjoy yourselves - thank you to Mayor Bynum!" Trump wrote on Twitter, adding the mayor informed him of the change in plans.
A high metal fence has since been erected to barricade the Trump rally venue.
Trump's comments come amid fears that the Tulsa rally could become a coronavirus super spreading event. This week, the state saw its highest daily increase in cases, prompting Tulsa businesses and residents to file a lawsuit that argued social distancing measures and face coverings should be made mandatory at the event.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court denied this request on Friday.
The president's comments contradict recommendations made by White House top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said people should wear masks at large gatherings and try to social distance as much as possible.
When asked by Axios whether he was aware of Fauci's warnings, the president responded: "Fauci? I'm OK with that. If people want to wear masks I think that's great. I won't be. Not as a protest but I don't feel that I'm in danger."
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The queue for the rally at the Bank of Oklahoma Center began forming earlier this week, with several Trump supporters choosing to camp outside.
According to the Trump campaign, they received over 1 million ticket requests although the venue only seats 19,000 people.
—Brad Parscale (@parscale) June 15, 2020
In response to the safety concerns, the Trump campaign said that they will do temperature checks and offer hand sanitizers and free masks.
However, people buying online tickets for the rally had to sign a waiver confirming they "voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19" and will not hold the campaign responsible for "any illness and injury," according to the BBC.
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