In the hours before his rally in Tulsa, US President Donald Trump’s campaign sparked thousands of “Don’t Sit Here, Please!” Directed to remove. According to videos and photographs obtained by the Washington Post and a person familiar with the incident, stickers from seats in the arena were meant to establish social distance between rallygoers.
With instructions removed from the BOK Center’s management, Tulsa has a 19,000-seat arena in the city where Trump held his rally on June 20. At the time, cases of coronovirus in Basil County were booming and Trump faced intense criticism for calling a conference. Large crowds for an indoor political rally, their first such event since the onset of the epidemic.
As part of its security plan, the arena management had purchased 12,000 not-so-stickers for Trump’s rally, which was intended to be set aside, leaving open seats among attendees. On the day of the rally, event staff had already pasted them to almost every other seat in the arena, when Trump’s campaign asked event management to stop and then began removing the stickers hours before the president’s arrival, which According to the person familiar with the incident who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.
In a video clip obtained by The Washington Post, two men – in a suit and wearing a badge and a face mask – can be seen pulling stickers from the seat in a section of the arena. It is not clear who those two individuals are. When Trump took the stage on Saturday evening, the crowd was joined together and attendees were not leaving empty seats among themselves.
Trump’s campaign was first reported on Friday by Billboard Magazine. As preparations for the rally got underway, Trump’s campaign staff intervened with the venue manager, ASM Global, and asked them to stop labeling seats in this way, ASM Global executive vice president Doug Thornton told the magazine.
“They also told us that they didn’t want to post a sign that we needed social distance to the venue,” Thornton said. “Went through the campaign and removed the stickers.”
A spokesperson for ASM Global declined to comment.
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Muerto did not directly answer questions about the removal of the stickers.
Murto said in an email statement, “The rally was completely in accordance with local requirements. In addition, attendees at each rally received a temperature check prior to entry, were given a face mask, and had a substantial amount of hand Sanitizer was provided. “
In a separate statement, the campaign said: “There were posted signs and we are not asking any campaign staff to remove them.”
Trump held his Tulsa rally despite protests from Oklahoma health officials and residents who feared that the spread of coronovirus could be hastened by calling on a large crowd. The number of coronavirus cases in Tulsa County was reeling in the days leading up to the rally and has been steadily increasing ever since.
Tulsa Health Department Director Bruce Dart recommended that the incident be postponed until it was safe. Several residents and business owners in the city brought a suit against the program manager, ASM Global, requiring all attendees to wear masks and follow social security guidelines from health officials. The Oklahoma Supreme Court dismissed that lawsuit.
On June 13, a week before the rally, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt wrote to an event venue management that he understood that Trump’s campaign “presented ASM Global a plan to accommodate capacity crowds during a political rally.”
Stitt noted that Oklahoma was in “Phase 3” of its reopening plan and that Trump’s rally “follows guidance as planned” moving forward. Stitt’s letter states that “We have also encouraged event licensees to refer to the general CDC guidelines for more information about COVID-19.”
Two days before the rally, managers at the BOK Center called on the Trump campaign to provide a detailed written plan outlining “health and safety” measures it was to use to prevent the spread of coronaviruses.
Prior to the rally, Murtow said in an emailed statement: “We take security seriously, which is why we’re doing temperature checks for everyone, and providing masks and hand sanitizers. It’s a Trump There will be a rally, which means a big, boisterous, excited crowd. We don’t miss the protesters shaming the media about the social disturbances – the media was actually cheering them on. “
As the crowd entered the day of the rally, the Trump campaign handed out branded hand sanitizer masks and small bottles of “Make America Great Again 2020”.
The BOK Center also laid down floor decals in front of concession areas and placed plexiglass to protect vendors.
At 1:47 pm that day, Fox 23 News posted a picture from inside the BOK Center on its Facebook page showing two members of the event staff putting stickers on seats. “Stickers are put on every other seat of BOK Center”