The crowd at President Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma was lower than expected, with the campaign blaming the size on Black Lives Matter protesters, while TikTok users say they pulled off the prank.
Brad Parscale, the chairman of Trump’s reelection campaign, built up anticipation for the rally by saying they had received more than one million ticket requests. When Saturday’s event rolled around, however, the 19,000-seat capacity theater only contained around 6,000 people looking to see the president speak. Planned outdoor events for overflow crowds were nixed due to the low amount of people.
— Kevin Disalmo (@Disalmo_K) June 21, 2020
— Andy Grayson #BlackLivesMatter #Rejoin 🇪🇺🏳️🌈 (@AndyGrays0n) June 21, 2020
Parscale has blamed the low attendance numbers on protesters blocking entrances to the event.
“Radical protesters, fueled by a week of apocalyptic media coverage, interfered with @realDonaldTrump supporters at the rally. They even blocked access to the metal detectors, preventing people from entering,” he tweeted.
America, this is the country @CNN is ok with, think about that.
This is the main gate of the rally: pic.twitter.com/wSKwotoajq
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) June 21, 2020
Radical protestors, fueled by a week of apocalyptic media coverage, interfered with @realDonaldTrump supporters at the rally.
They even blocked access to the metal detectors, preventing people from entering.
Thanks to the 1,000s who made it anyway!https://t.co/eM2nohMEy6
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) June 20, 2020
Video from the rally did show BLM protesters threatening Trump supporters with violence and police needing to fire pepper balls at certain points to disperse crowds.
Parscale’s political opponents, however, have a different theory about the reason behind the small number of people in Tulsa.
Users of the social media platform TikTok and K-pop fans on Twitter — active supporters of Korean pop music — are taking credit for the low turnout, chalking it all up to a prank against Trump and his campaign.
Leading up to the rally, TikTok users and K-pop fans — who are known for political trolling — posted videos of themselves requesting tickets for the event, but then sarcastically saying they won’t be able to make it. Some of the videos racked up millions of views, while others were quickly deleted to keep the ‘joke’ under wraps from the president’s campaign.
“The majority of people who made them deleted them after the first day because we didn’t want the Trump campaign to catch wind,” YouTuber Elijah Daniel, who took part in the ‘joke,’ told the New York Times. “These kids are smart and they thought of everything.”
Whether or not the prank affected the attendance numbers, Trump’s critics were celebrating the social media users they see as handing the president a loss.
“Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations & tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an arena during COVID,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) tweeted to Parscale.
Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations & tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an arena during COVID
Shout out to Zoomers. Y’all make me so proud. ☺️ https://t.co/jGrp5bSZ9T
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 21, 2020
This is what happened tonight. I’m dead serious when I say this. The teens of America have struck a savage blow against @realDonaldTrump. All across America teens ordered tickets to this event. The fools on the campaign bragged about a million tickets. lol. @ProjectLincoln.
— Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) June 20, 2020
The celebratory tweets left some scratching their heads, including conservative pundit Steven Crowder, who pushed back against Ocasio-Cortez by asking if she was promoting “election meddling” through teenagers through a Chinese-owned social media platform.
“…did you just approve of election meddling from underage, (likely) foreign, NON-VOTERS through use of a Chinese app/platform?” he tweeted to the congresswoman.
… did you just approve of election meddling from underage, (likely) foreign, NON-VOTERS through use of a Chinese app/platform? https://t.co/RPGIFPAxgT
— Steven Crowder (@scrowder) June 21, 2020