US President Donald Trump threatened Friday at his weekend re-election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with unspecified action against demonstrators in a warning that his campaign was not aimed at peaceful demonstrators.
"All protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who go to Oklahoma please understand that you will not be treated the way you were in New York, Seattle or Minneapolis. It will be a very different scene!" Trump wrote on Twitter.
Marc Lotter, a spokesman for Trump's campaign, said Trump was referring to agitators, not peaceful demonstrators.
"The president supports peaceful protests and people who exercise their First Amendment rights," Lotter told MSNBC in an interview after the tweet. "If we see what we've seen in other cities with riots, looting, building lighting, and physical violence, it will be something the police will encounter."
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told reporters at a press conference that previous destructive protests were unacceptable while peaceful demonstrators were allowed: "What he meant are violent protesters, anarchists, looters – the kind of lawlessness we've seen before to have."
The rally is Trump's first major re-election event after the novel coronavirus pandemic that has closed much of the country and is taking place amid weeks of unrest over the treatment of African Americans and growing protests against racism and policing.
With more than 100,000 expected people in the rally area on Saturday, the Mayor of Tulsa, G.T. Bynum lifted a curfew on Friday, which he had arranged for several blocks in the city center around the venue.
"Today, the intelligence agency asked the city to lift the curfew this weekend. In accordance with the request, the city has lifted the order," said the city of Tulsa in a press release quoted by CBS News.
Trump thanked Bynum in a tweet for lifting the curfew.
The Republican president faced a backlash in Minneapolis' police custody during the protests after the recent death in George Floyd, an African American. He said, "When the looting begins, the shots begin." The sentence evoked a white segregationist who was mayor of Miami in the 1960s, although Trump later said he didn't know his origins.
Rev. Al Sharpton, an experienced civil rights activist who is due to speak later in Tulsa before an event on June 19, described Trump's tweet as "disrespectful," especially after the recent death of Floyd and another African American, Rayshard Brooks, in Atlanta .
"To have such a threat, you provoke an incident and unnecessary interaction," Sharpton told MSNBC.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)