Trump campaign told police to remove peaceful protester arrested outside Tulsa rally

Woman wearing 'I Can't Breathe' T-shirt dragged from area at campaign staff's 'request'

Alex Woodward
New York
Saturday 20 June 2020 22:41 BST
Tulsa Police place Sheila Buck into custody outside Tulsa's BOK Centre before Donald Trump's campaign rally on 20 June.
Tulsa Police place Sheila Buck into custody outside Tulsa's BOK Centre before Donald Trump's campaign rally on 20 June. (AFP via Getty Images)

At the request of Donald Trump's campaign, police arrested an Oklahoma demonstrator on live television moments after she was seen praying outside the president's rally, though she said she had a ticket to attend.

Sheila Buck, who was wearing an "I Can't Breathe" T-shirt to memorialise black Americans killed by police, was accused of "trespassing" by Tulsa officers who dragged her away from the city's BOK Centre on Saturday.

Ms Buck was placed into a police cruiser and booked with "obstruction", according to police, though she wasn't impeding any foot traffic or blocking any access to the area.

"They're arresting me," she told several news crews following her arrest from the centre. "They're putting cuffs on me. I've done nothing. I have tickets to this thing."

Asked why she was demonstrating, she said: "Because of this."

Earlier on Saturday, she was seen quietly walking alongside lines of people waiting to enter the centre before kneeling in prayer hours before the president was set to arrive.

On Friday, the president issued a threat to protesters outside his rally: "Any protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis. It will be a much different scene!"

The campaign asked police to "remove" Ms Buck, who was booked for obstruction, according to the Tulsa Police Department.

"This morning at 11.30am Tulsa Police were requested by Trump campaign staff to remove an individual from the secure area of the rally," police said in a statement. "Tulsa Police spoke to the arrestee, Ms Buck, for several minutes trying to convince her to leave on her own accord. After several minutes requesting her to leave she continued to refuse to cooperate and was escorted out of the area and transported to booking for obstruction."

Police said that Ms Buck "had passed through the metal detector area to the most secure area of the event accessible only to ticket holders. Whether she had a ticket or not for the event is not a contributing factor for the Tulsa Police in making the arrest. Officers at the location, particularly in the 'Sterile' area, will remove individuals only at the direction of campaign staff."

She was "in an area that is considered a private event area and the event organiser ... can have people removed at their discretion," according to police.

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