Trump campaign removed social distancing signs prior to Tulsa rally, footage shows
The reelection team reportedly wanted no references to the coronavirus pandemic or social distancing recommendations present at the Tulsa rally
President Donald Trump received a lot of criticism for holding a large campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the middle of a deadly health pandemic.
Fallout from the event is continuing to mount one week after the event on reports that the Trump campaign removed social distancing reminders from the stadium. Video footage shows campaign staffers removing thousands of stickers placed on venue seats that called for safe distancing for guests, according to The Washington Post.
In the video, two men are seen removing stickers from seats at Tulsa’s BOK Center. The stickers said, “Do Not Sit Here, Please!” and was placed on several seats. The stickers were a part of a new safety strategy at the 19,000-seat arena known as VenueShield, Billboard reports.
Doug Thornton, executive vice president for venue management company ASM Global, stated that venue staff had placed the stickers on the seats in the hours prior to the start of the rally. The president’s reelection team later radioed an ASM executive instructing the company to cease placing the stickers on seats, according to Billboard.
“The campaign went through and removed the stickers,” Thornton told the music news outlet. He went on to say “they also told us that they didn’t want any signs posted saying we should social distance in the venue.”
The event was open to the general public and many arrived without masks. The Oklahoma Supreme Court had rejected a lawsuit file by Tulsa business owners and residents against ASM Global, asking organizers to require attendees to wear masks at the rally.
Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, told The Post in an email that precautions were taken to ensure audience safety, but did not address the removal of the stickers.
“The rally was in full compliance with local requirements,” Murtaugh wrote. “In addition, every rally attendee received a temperature check prior to admission, was given a face mask, and provided ample access to hand sanitizer.”
While only 6,200 people attended the rally, according to Tulsa Fire Department, many in the audience were seen on the telecast sitting or standing in close proximity.
Have you subscribed to theGrio’s new podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!