Greenwood District

A portion of the Greenwood District is pictured in 2019. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World file

OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Kevin Stitt said Wednesday he is now recommending that President Donald Trump not visit the Greenwood District in Tulsa on Saturday.

Stitt’s remarks reversing course from earlier this week were made following a news conference concerning the state’s spending of $1.2 billion in federal dollars from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to combat COVID-19.

Trump was initially invited by Stitt to tour the Greenwood District.

The potential Greenwood visit caused some concerns from members of the community and criticism in light of Trump’s rally Saturday at the BOK Center during the COVID-19 outbreak in which social distancing and masks have been recommended.

“Great decision,” said state Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa, who is chairwoman of the Black Legislative Caucus. “It appeared to be more provocative than productive. Racial tensions are running high and we should be focusing on advancing all of Oklahoma.”

State Rep. Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa, said from the very start he thought it was inappropriate for Trump to visit the Greenwood District based on his remarks during a white supremacy rally in Virginia in which Trump said there were very fine people on both sides.

“Greenwood was famed for black excellence,” he said.

Trump has falsely claimed the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama, was not born in this country, Nichols said.

“The president’s rhetoric doesn’t have a place in the Greenwood District,” Nichols said.

Marq Lewis, local activist and founder of We the People Oklahoma, issued a statement Wednesday saying Stitt and Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum should do their best to keep Trump from visiting Greenwood.

“The people of that area, particularly and especially black people, have been traumatized enough. For that neighborhood, the Juneteenth weekend should be a time of love, celebration and healing — especially this year,” the statement said.

“The presence of President Trump will create the opposite environment. There are numerous ways that the president could see Tulsa and/or meet with the black community without dragging himself, the press, Secret Service, his staff and expansive entourage into our small, tight-knit community. It will be a terrible distraction, an exposure to danger and, frankly, unwelcome.”

Stitt said a possible Trump visit to the Greenwood District “is kind of in flux.”

“That is something that will ultimately be the president’s decision,” Stitt said. “Ultimately, the president doesn’t ask for permission before he comes different places.”

But Stitt said he and U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., have now recommended that Trump not visit Greenwood.

Stitt said it would be disruptive to Juneteenth activities.

Juneteenth is the annual commemoration of the emancipation of enslaved black people.

Trump was originally scheduled to hold his rally on Juneteenth but moved it back a day at the request of Stitt, the governor has said.

Stitt said he is no longer looking for an outside venue for the event instead of using the BOK Center.

“We decided to stay where we are at,” Stitt said. “That was one of the things on the table was to look for an outdoor venue. It didn’t work out in the city of Tulsa.”

The crowd is expected to be in the thousands for the rally, scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, with an overflow audience in the nearby Cox Business Convention Center.


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Barbara Hoberock

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barbara.hoberock@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @bhoberock

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