It was June 20th and we antiwar vets had traveled all the way to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the midst of a pandemic to protest President Trump’s latest folly, an election 2020 rally where he was to parade his goods and pretend all was well with this country. We never planned to go inside the cavernous arena where that rally was to be held. I was part of our impromptu reconnaissance team that called an audible at the last moment. We suddenly decided to infiltrate not just the perimeter of that Tulsa rally, but the BOK Center itself. That meant I got a long, close look at the MAGA crowd there in what turned out to be a more than half-empty arena. Our boots-on-the-ground coalition of two national antiwar veteran organizations -- About Face and Veterans for Peace (VFP) -- had thrown together a rather risky direct action event in coordination with the local activists who invited us.
Once spotted — read: ironically snitched on by onlooking National Guardsmen — our group was rapidly swarmed by a boatload of aggressive, somewhat violent, police officers. My Marine Corps infantry veteran buddy was shoved to the ground and hit his head (thankfully without serious injury) with the rest quickly shepherded to the exits. Arrest seemed imminent, but in the end only the three climbers — plus a distinctly soft-spoken and older Vietnam veteran “packing” only a camera — were actually booked. There was some crowd jeering directed our way during the exit march, with one memorable Trump enthusiast yelling “Antifa!” at another marine vet friend, before loudly yelling “in tongues” in his face. It’s hard to imagine a more apt symbol of much that’s bizarre and distasteful in Trump World. Matters could have ended worse. In a sense, the real fear stemmed from the crowd, the MAGA mob, and — without complete hyperbole given the amphitheater scene — a vigilante attack.
By Linda Christensen for the Zinn Education Project. Tulsa, OK - None of my mostly African American 11th graders in Portland had ever heard of the so-called Tulsa Race Riot, even though it stands as one of the most violent episodes of dispossession in U.S. history. The term “race riot” does not adequately describe the events of May 31—June 1, 1921 in Greenwood, a black neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In fact, the term itself implies that both blacks and whites might be equally to blame for the lawlessness and violence. The historical record documents a sustained and murderous assault on black lives and property. This assault was met by a brave but unsuccessful armed defense of their community by some black World War I veterans and others.