US President Donald Trump has pointed to changes he made to an upcoming campaign rally as proof that he is not deliberately stoking racial tensions to appeal to right-wing white voters as part of his plan to seek re-election in November.
“My African American friend and supporter reached out to suggest that we consider changing the date, and we’ve done just that,” Mr Trump told reporters.
The President had been accused of racial “dog whistling” after announcing a Make American Great Again rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on 19 June or Emancipation Day.
People linked to the Black Lives Matter movement attacked the decision because 19 June is commemorated in the US as the anniversary of the official end of slavery in 1865. The Tulsa location was also questioned because the city was the site of a 1921 massacre of an estimated 300 black residents at the hands of white vigilantes following the alleged assault of a young white woman by a black youth.
“I have announced that I will shift the date of the rally from 19 June to 20 June,” Mr Trump told reporters.
“I can say that the rally’s location in Tulsa is purely coincidental. Nobody should read anything into the decision to pick Tulsa for this event.
“I love meeting and speaking to my friends and supporters at rallies and I’m looking forward to being in Tulsa on 20 June. I’m gonna kill ’em,” he said.
The President made his remarks at a photo opportunity outside the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee during a campaign swing through southern US states (main picture).
A White House spokesperson said the trip was aimed at promoting the President’s policies supporting gun ownership and the rights of recreational hunters.