Trump's Arizona rally amid Covid-19 surge and Phoenix police action come under fire: 'He is killing Americans'
The church was packed with Trump supporters, many of them young Republican voters, and none of them wore masks or maintained social distancing
A huge crowd gathered at a Phoenix church on June 23 as President Donald Trump spoke at a "Students of Trump" campaign rally. The crowd gathered in close proximity and most went without masks as Arizona recorded its highest count of coronavirus cases in a single day -- over 3,590 people tested positive for COVID-19. The event took place at Dream City Church on Cave Creek and Thunderbird roads. The church was packed with Trump supporters, many of them young Republican voters. The church holds 3,000 people, and according to the Associated Press, almost every seat was filled.
The president did not wear a mask during his speech. Church leaders had said masks would be encouraged but not required. However, face masks are mandatory in public places in Phoenix, but Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego had said that the mask mandate would not be enforced at the president's rally.
Many took to social media to criticize Trump, the church and state officials for holding the event with no social distancing regulations. One user tweeted, "On the WORST day of the pandemic in #Arizona with 58,179 cases and single-day records of 3,593 new cases and 42 new deaths, these unmasked #Trump supporters at Dream City Church, Phoenix Arizona are breathing #COVID in and out."
Another pointed out, "Trump told a packed-in crowd without masks on that 'we are hopefully at the end of the pandemic'. Same day that Dr Fauci testified that the virus was not yet under control in the US and it was imperative for the nation to stock up on masks. #coronavirus #TrumpRallyPhoenix." One user tweeted, "What percentage of these people waiting to see Trump in Arizona will end up with Covid-19? Why are they penned in like animals?? #TrumpInAZ." Another wrote, "HE IS LITERALLY KILLING AMERICANS W HIS IGNORANCE AND NARCISSISM #MAGA #TrumpInAZ."
Outside the church in the "free speech zone," hundreds of protesters marched along the roadway, holding signs and chanting "Whose streets? Our streets" and "Black Lives Matter." Some protestors wore masks, but others did not. Most protesters left the area of Cave Creek Road and Sharon Drive after police declared the protest an unlawful assembly and shot projectiles into the crowd. Some protestors resorted to helping others whose eyes hurt from gas or smoke projectiles shot by the police into the crowd.
Many users also criticized the Phoenix police for using projectiles on peaceful protestors. A user tweeted, "I call foul! Protesting is protected under the first amendment of the United States constitution. The fact that @PhoenixPolice routinely violates that is atrocious." Another wrote, "So, people peacefully, constitutionally protected protesters are met with force. People who don't wear masks...nada. ok got it."
A user tweeted, "Why do I have a sneaking suspicion that the unlawful assault on the 1A taken by the @PhoenixPolice today was to disperse the crowd so Trump didn't have to see it? The timing is too convenient." A user wrote, "Hey @PhoenixPolice — I think it's unacceptable that you guys used projectiles and gas against peaceful protestors today, especially while the state was in the spotlight due to T being here. Have you learned nothing from recent national events? #deescalate."