Tulsa police are facing scrutiny after video showed officers arresting a woman wearing a shirt that read “I Can’t Breathe” outside the venue that is set to hold Donald Trump’s first political rally in months.
Video broadcast live on MSNBC showed officers speaking to the woman as she sat on the ground. The woman was reportedly told to leave the area, despite saying she had a ticket to attend the event. When she did not comply with the order, police were seen picking her up by the arms and taking her away as she remained motionless.
“I’ve done nothing,” the woman was heard saying.
“I have tickets to this thing.”
The report noted that it did not appear the woman was impeding access to the event. The woman told an MSNBC reporter that she was accused of trespassing and arrested. She said that she was not part of any organized group, and believed she was arrested because of the shirt.
The words “I Can’t Breathe” have been used by protesters demonstrating against police brutality. These were the last words of George Floyd as he was killed by police in Minneapolis, kicking off weeks of nationwide protests.
The arrest came under scrutiny after what appeared to be a threat against protesters issued by Trump the previous day.
“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!” he tweeted.
Critics saw that statement as a threat to protesters, who had a legal right to demonstrate outside the event. Trump already faced criticism for his statements regarding protesters, including what appeared to be a threat to authorize the U.S. military to shoot looters.
Days later, a large group of protesters outside the White House were attacked by police and pushed out of an area in Lafayette Square. Minutes after the protest was cleared, Trump walked out of the White House — and through the area where the protesters had been — to take part in an appearance while holding a Bible outside of a church. Said church had been damaged during protests the previous night.
There is no apparent connection between Trump’s threat and the arrest of the woman wearing the “I Can’t Breathe” shirt, but many critics have pointed to Trump’s apparent threat as a potential reason behind it.