A lawsuit to stop the 20 June event over concerns that it could increase the spread of Covid-19 in the community was filed this week.
Virus cases are rising in Oklahoma, and local health officials have expressed concerns over hosting the rally.
The Trump campaign says they received over 1m ticket requests for the event.
The queue for the event at the Bank of Oklahoma Center – which seats 19,000 people – began forming earlier this week.
Facing tough re-election prospects in November, the Republican president is hoping to reboot his campaign after a rocky week that has seen news of sinking opinion poll numbers, twin US Supreme Court defeats, two damning tell-all memoirs and a resurgence in coronavirus cases.
The lawsuit to cancel his rally was filed by John Hope Franklin for Reconciliation, a nonprofit organisation that promotes racial equality, and a commercial real estate company, the Greenwood Centre.
They argued the venue should mandate social distancing guidelines in accordance with US public health officials’ recommendations, or cancel the event.
But the Supreme Court said that as the state had begun to reopen, the regulations left social distancing decisions up to individual business owners. Oklahoma has seen a recent spike in coronavirus cases.
In response to safety concerns, the Trump campaign has said they will check attendees’ temperatures and offer hand sanitiser and masks.
But people buying tickets for the Tulsa rally online also have to click on a waiver confirming they “voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to Covid-19” and will not hold the president’s campaign responsible for “any illness or injury”.
The president himself has pushed back against guidance around masks, calling them a personal choice.
In an interview with political news outlet Axios released on Friday night, he was asked if he recommended rally attendees wear facial coverings.
“I recommend people do what they want,” he replied.
Mr Trump also said: “We’re going to have a wild evening tomorrow night at Oklahoma.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has said attendees will be given masks, but they will not be instructed to wear them – and told reporters on Friday that she will not be wearing one either.
Tulsa’s health department director Dr Bruce Dart told the Tulsa World paper: “I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn’t as large a concern as it is today.”
Tulsa’s mayor imposed a curfew on Thursday around the venue, declaring a civil emergency, but the president says the city leader has assured him the measure will not apply to the rally itself.
Mayor GT Bynum, a Republican, cited recent “civil unrest” and potential opposition protests as he slapped an exclusion zone on a six-block radius near the arena.
But on Friday afternoon, Mr Bynum said that the Secret Service had asked the city to lift the curfew.
“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,” the mayor said in a statement.
“Today, we were told the curfew is no longer necessary so I am rescinding it.”
The mayor also said law enforcement had intelligence that “individuals from organised groups who have been involved in destructive and violent behaviour in other states are planning to travel to the city of Tulsa for purposes of causing unrest in and around the rally”.
Meanwhile, a high metal fence was put up to barricade the Trump rally venue.
Earlier on Friday, President Trump posted a warning on Twitter to demonstrators.
“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,” the president tweeted.
“It will be a much different scene!”
Mr Trump originally planned to hold the rally on Friday, but changed the date last week after learning it fell on Juneteenth, the celebration of the end of US slavery.
The president told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that a black Secret Service agent had told him the meaning of the anniversary.
On Friday, Ms McEnany said the president “routinely commemorated” the day and “he did not just learn about Juneteenth this week”.
Tulsa was the site of one of the worst racial massacres in US history.
U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against New York’s Restrictions On Religious Gatherings
The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily barred New York from enforcing strict attendance limits on places of worship in areas designated coronavirus hot spots, in a decision released just before midnight on Wednesday.
The decision marked a major shift for the court, in essence at least a partial reversal of previous rulings, as well as a clear indication of the court’s dramatic move to the right with the addition of new Justice Amy Coney Barrett in place of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Earlier this year, while Ginsburg was still on the court, it was Chief Justice John Roberts who cast the critical fifth vote to uphold a similar order from governors in California and Nevada.
This time, Roberts was in the minority, noting that the New York rules at issue in the case had already been eased.
The newly constituted majority, however, rejected Roberts’ deferential approach, noting that New York could impose the strict orders again at any time.
“The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty,” the unsigned majority decision said. “Even in a pandemic, the constitution cannot be put away and forgotten.”
The New York rules imposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo restricted attendance at religious services in areas classified as “red” or “orange” zones. In red zones, no more than 10 people were permitted to attend each service, and in orange zones, attendance was capped at 25.
Those rules, which the court majority found to be “severe” and “inflexible,” did not apply to retail stores in the same neighborhoods, the decision said. In an “orange” zone, where secular businesses are subject to no attendance cap at all, the discrimination was “even starker,” the court said.
The justices in the majority, in addition to Barrett, were Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
Gorsuch filed an unusually acerbic concurring opinion, blasting not only Governor Cuomo but also Chief Justice Roberts for his earlier opinion in the California and Nevada cases.
Referring to the more lax rules for New York retailers, Gorsuch opined that “at least according to Governor Cuomo, it may be unsafe to go to church, but it is always fine to pick up another bottle of wine, shop for a new bike, or spend the afternoon exploring your distal points and meridians,” a reference to acupuncture being unregulated.
And when it came to Roberts, Gorsuch spent several pages accusing him of “rewriting history” in his dissenting opinion on Wednesday and his earlier opinions in the California and Nevada cases.
“In the end,” said Gorsuch, while Roberts and the other dissenters may wish to “stay out of the way” and let state officials and experts deal with the crisis of a pandemic, “we may not shelter in place where the Constitution is under attack.” There is, he wrote, “no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops but shutter churches, synagogues, and mosques.”
Roberts replied with a slap-down of his own. Quoting from Gorsuch’s acid dismissal of the dissenters’ views, the Chief Justice said he did not regard his dissenting colleagues with such venom: “They simply view the matter differently after careful study and reflecting their best efforts to fulfill their responsibility under the Constitution.”
As to Gorsuch’s concurrence, which, as Roberts put it, “takes aim at my [earlier] concurring opinion,” Gorsuch had engaged in such overkill that he spent “three pages” criticizing one sentence.
And “what did that sentence say?” asked Roberts. “Only that our Constitution principally entrusts the safety and health of the people to the politically accountable officials of the states to guard and protect.”
Those words, said Roberts, “should be uncontroversial, and the Gorsuch concurrence must reach beyond the words themselves to find the target it is looking for.”
That earlier opinion involved rules that were not as strict as the New York rules. The California church limited attendance to 100 people. In buildings with a capacity of 400 or fewer people, capacity was limited to 25%. In Nevada, churches were limited to 50 people.
On Nov. 12, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America asked the court for temporary injunctions against the New York governor’s executive order.
The synagogues said Cuomo’s order “singled out a particular religion for blame and retribution” for the uptick in coronavirus cases.
The court granted the temporary injunctive relief until the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in December — and then the Supreme Court as appropriate — can more fully consider the merits of the case. But the majority said that challengers, as of now, have a good chance of prevailing if they get to the Supreme Court again.
It’s unclear how the case will proceed. New York’s Solicitor General Barbara D. Underwood recently informed the court that recent changes to the policies in question meant none of the diocese’s churches or the area’s synagogues would any longer be subject to the restrictions.
Cuomo described Wednesday’s decision as a political statement. In his daily coronavirus briefing Thursday, he said, “Look, I’m a former altar boy, Catholic, Catholic grammar school, Catholic high school, Jesuits at college. So I fully respect religion and if there’s a time in life when we need it, the time is now. But we want to make sure we keep people safe at the same time, and that’s the balance we’re trying to hit, especially in this holiday season.”
Indonesian Terrorist Burns Down Church and Christian Homes, Killing Four
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on November 27, an alleged terrorist attacked the Salvation Army’s service post in central Sulawesi, before burning six houses of church members. Four Christians were murdered, with three being butchered.
Around 8 a.m., the Lewonu Lembantongoa Service Post, located in Sigi Regency, Central Sulawesi, set up as an outreach effort by the Salvation Army in Indonesia (Bala Keselamatan), was attacked by the alleged terrorist.
He set the church on fire, before attacking Captain Arnianto, Mrs. Mpapa, Lieutenant Abram Kako and his wife and burning down six houses of the church members. Out of the four victims, three were hacked to death, while the other was burned.
In the video seen by ICC, the charred victim was pulled from a pile of ruins, with smoke still rising in the background. The fowler position of the body suggests the agony and pain endured by the victim before death.
Lemban Tongoa is located in the forest, where access of information and transportation is limited. ICC will continue to follow up to learn more about the details of the attack. The Salvation Army is asking for prayers “for the family of the victims, for the church, and for the peace of the region.”
Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “ICC mourns the death of the Indonesian brothers and sisters who were brutally murdered by the alleged terrorist. We urge the Indonesian government to take necessary measures to hold him accountable and put him to justice. Such senseless act cannot be tolerated in the country that boasts ‘Pancasila,’ the state ideology which promotes religious harmony and tolerance.”
U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against New York’s Restrictions On Religious Gatherings
The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily barred New York from enforcing strict attendance limits on places of worship in areas...
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