Stay away, was the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s advice Wednesday to people opposed to President Donald Trump’s rally at the BOK Center on Saturday.
“Stay at home, really,” he told the Tulsa World by telephone. “That’s a form of protest, too.
“Please don’t come. (Large crowds) have a multiplier effect on this pandemic.”
Jackson’s warning came as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading epidemiologist, added his voice to those of medical experts warning that the rally could spread COVID-19 far and wide.
Jackson said he is concerned about the potential health risk of large crowds of Trump supporters and anti-Trump protesters, but that attempts will be made to provoke confrontation.
“We think Trump is trying to incite a riot for diversion,” Jackson said. “We must preach nonviolent discipline as never before.
“We must not succumb to temptation,” he said. “Let him have his party. If we do go, take one knee and pray. This is not a time to get into a (physical confrontation). Verbal, either.”
Jackson said the country faces multiple crises, including COVID-19 and growing unrest about the deaths of black men at the hands of white law officers.
“This is a very dangerous period,” he said.
Jackson suggested Trump sees turmoil as beneficial to his reelection chances and said those opposed to Trump should not take the bait.
“Violence would not be smart,” he said. “Violence is diversionary. It’s divisive. There is no healing in violence.”
The Trump campaign said public health measures will be taken at the rally, but it is requiring attendees to sign liability waivers for COVID-19.
Mayor G.T. Bynum on Wednesday during a daily briefing on COVID-19 in Tulsa said he would be on hand to greet Trump at Tulsa International Airport when he arrives but that he would not be attending the rally.
Bynum said he would be spending time Saturday with Tulsa police officers, who he said have done an “extraordinary job” throughout the pandemic.
The Trump campaign said as many as a million tickets have been requested, although it appears some percentage of those requests were filed by anti-Trump forces hoping to discourage Trump supporters from attending.
Observers say it’s likely all they succeeded in doing was giving Trump’s campaign hundreds of thousands of cellphone numbers and email addresses for fundraising solicitations.
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