Eric Trump, the second-eldest of President Donald Trump's sons, served as an opening act for his father's Tulsa, Oklahoma rally on Saturday night at the BOK Center. During his speech, Trump called Black Lives Matter protesters "animals," claiming they are "taking over" cities and "burning down" churches. Protesters have been calling out racial injustice and police brutality in all 50 states since George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.
"We’re going to keep the moral fabric of this country," the 34-year-old Trump said. "Because when you watch the nonsense on TV when you see these animals literally taking over our cities, burning down churches, this isn’t America. That’s not what Americans do." Trump, who was standing with his wife Lara Trump, then insisted everyone is going to say "Merry Christmas" if his father is re-elected because Christmas is "totally under assault."
Trump's reference to "burning down churches" is a reference to the fire set at the historic St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington D.C. during protests on May 31. On June 2, President Trump walked from the Rose Garden to the church, where he held up a Bible. The scene came after peaceful protesters were dispersed by federal police to make way for Trump's walk. Episcopal Diocese Washington Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde later slammed Trump for the incident, saying Trump used the church as a "backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus."
During his own speech, President Trump once again turned protesters into villains. He referred to them as "left-wing radicals" and called those who attended the rally "warriors" for getting past "some very bad people outside." The president called protesters "thugs," specifically those in Seattle. "Americans have watched left-wing radicals burn down buildings loot businesses, destroy private property, injure hundreds of dedicated police officers," the president said. Later on, he told the audience, "When you see those lunatics all over the streets, it's damn nice to have arms."
Trump also told Oklahoma's U.S. Senators to create legislation banning the burning of the American flag, reports CNN. "You know, they talk about freedom of speech, and I believe in freedom of speech. But that's desecration," he said. However, the Supreme Court ruled that laws against burning the flag are unconstitutional.
Elsewhere, Trump criticized Democrats for trying to "demolish our heritage" when it comes to tearing down statues of Confederate figures. He suggested that if police were defunded, Americans would call 911 and no one would answer. "These people are stone-cold crazy," Trump said.