"Sadly, protesters interfered with supporters, even blocking access to the metal detectors, which prevented people from entering the rally," Tim Murtaugh, the campaign's communications director, said in a statement.


Is there any proof of this statement? If true, it might explain the low turnout, when Trump claimed that 1,000,000 had requested tickets.

Does anyone know where said metal detectors were located? I might expect them to be at the entrance to the arena, but that would not explain how

So few people turned up that a speech the US president was meant to give to an outside "overflow" stage before the main event for those who could not get in was cancelled at the last minute.

  • 3
    Slight tangent but the low turnout was due to people online deliberately registering with no intent of showing, as an act of sabotage. The evidence is all over twitter, there are hundreds of posts of people bragging about doing so - including videos, so they were unlikely bots. Commented Jun 23, 2020 at 16:51
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    @user2647513 I don't think there's evidence that people registering without intent of showing actually caused low turnout, no matter how many people registered for tickets who made no attempt to show up.
    – prosfilaes
    Commented Jun 23, 2020 at 17:20
  • 1
    @prosfilaes You think that evidence of people notifying an event of their intent to show up and then not showing up is not evidence for the cause of lower than expected turnout? Even if that's the case, the fact that so many people went on twitter and bragged about it now ensures that the campaign has someone to blame since twitter isn't going to be forthcoming about how many people even posted about doing it. Commented Jun 23, 2020 at 17:58
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    @user2647513 There's a difference between "lower than expected" and "low" turnout. I don't think that people claiming tickets given out freely and indiscriminately, to the tune of roughly 20 times as many as the stadium could hold, and not in practice needed to get into the stadium, caused there to be a lack of people in the stadium. The Trump campaign may have misjudged the expected turnout based on that; I believe the Biden campaign pointed out giving out free tickets online tends to have way more tickets given out then people showing up in any case.
    – prosfilaes
    Commented Jun 23, 2020 at 18:16
  • 1
    @user2647513 Since there's an implication in this claim that Trump's campaign lied about expected turnout, that's good information for an answer to contain. If you go that route, you must source it. Unsourced items in answers are removed or even result in the entire answer being deleted. Be sure that you also answer the question as worded (did anyone block metal detectors?).
    – user11643
    Commented Jun 24, 2020 at 17:41

2 Answers 2


Other than assertions to that effect by the Trump Administration, there is no evidence of this. However there is very strong evidence that it did not happen.

There are a fair amount of pictures of the outside of the BOK Center during the time in question. They pretty much all show just a small crowd.

As a bit of background, I'm a Tulsan who has attended multiple events at the BOK in the past. In every instance, the metal detectors were just inside the main doors. However, it appears that for this event they were expecting a large enough crowd that a cordon of barricades was erected around the area, with the entrance controlled by metal detectors and a temperature taking station.

Here are a couple of pictures of that station, taken by Tulsa World reporter Samantha Vicent, and posted on Twitter: enter image description here

This one pretty clearly shows there wasn't really any line at all for the metal detectors.

Here's another that she confirmed was taken from outside the cordon looking toward the detector station (she was not allowed in due to carrying a backpack). There is no line or protestors visible for quite a distance.

enter image description here

Here's a cap of some on-the-ground reporting from David Weigel of the Washington Post stating that protestors were remarkable mostly by their absence, and protestors were in fact being kept very far away: enter image description here

Here's another picture and story showing that a couple arriving late had no trouble whatsoever getting in. enter image description here

Weigel also posted a video here showing the outdoor "overflow" stage, and a smallish glob of red-hatted folks lined up to enter (the big glass building is the BOK). Here's another showing people entering, with nowhere near the kind of line the routing barriers seemed to be anticipating.

So there was no big backup of frustrated prospective attendees hoping to get in. Multiple journalists working the event reported that latecomers had no trouble whatsoever walking up and getting in. There is also no sign whatsoever of any protestors or anyone being disruptive in any way.

Another good thing to look at would be arrest records at the event. It turns out there was one protestor arrested for obstructing the rally. One. Here's her story:

Buck put on her black “I Can’t Breathe” shirt and walked to the barricade near the BOK, where she said security let her through. She said she didn’t make it far, though, as Trump campaign folks quickly swarmed her.

“I was surrounded and was told I could not go any further and that I was trespassing on a private event and I wasn’t wanted there,” Buck said. “And I said, ‘This is my town; this is my city. I’m a citizen of the United States of America.’

“And I was just praying as people were looking at me. And I realized they were going to arrest me.”

Buck said she kept reiterating that she had a ticket but that Trump’s campaign people wanted her to walk out. She said she sat down on the ground because she wasn’t going to walk away.

To be clear, Buck had made it in past the metal detectors, and was arrested for "obstruction" (which seemed to involve sitting down) inside the cordon.

Given the fact that there was only one arrest, and how little action it took on her part to get surrounded and arrested, any claim that there were in fact large numbers of other protestors who made it as far as the entrance metal detectors and were not surrounded and arrested, or reported on, seems incredibly unlikely.

Finally, the main person making this claim in the first place, Brad Parscale, has now completely changed his story, and as of this writing is claiming it was actually the Tulsa Police who kept Trump supporters away. Whatever the merits of that claim may be, it is pretty clearly a different and incompatible claim.

In an interview, Mr. Parscale said the empty arena was not his fault, and that local law enforcement in Tulsa had overreacted, making it difficult for supporters to gain entry. He claimed to have thousands of emails from supporters who tried to get into the Bank of Oklahoma Center and were turned away, but he did not share those messages or names of supporters.

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    While you might be right, it's very difficult to prove a negative: photos can be selected according to when they are taken and what they show. Showing a photo with no people on it is no proof of no people being there before or after the photo was taken. The other answer shows a crowd outside the building, but even there it isn't clear whether they are protestors, and if so, which side they are protesting for.
    – vsz
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 5:26
  • 38
    Given the approach taken by security forces when Trump wanted a Bible photo op, it likely that if protesters had been blocking entrance to the building they would have been aggressively removed (and there would be news and citizen coverage of the confrontation). Also, had there been Trump supporters prevented from entering, there would be ample video evidence taken by the hopeful-attendees of their denied entrance. Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 11:49
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    @MichaelTeter I think your last point is key - the claim is that a large crowd of people was delayed by another large crowd's provocative behavior, but not a single person on either side captured and shared any record of the event. Relatively mundane things like public freakouts at fast food joints regularly go viral, so to me it's inconceivable that this could have occurred and not been documented. Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 13:30
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    @vsz: OTOH, this seems like a good application of Occam's Razor. It was a newsworthy event at which a large number of photographers would reasonably be expected, both from the press and the general public, yet AFAIK there are exactly zero photos of protestors blocking metal detectors. The simplest explanation for this is that there weren't any. We use such logic to "prove" negatives all the time. (Of course if new evidence shows up, we change our minds :-))
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 18:38
  • 3
    As the first comment says, photographs to give evidence for a negative is meaningless. Instead, depending on and stressing further the lack of positive evidence, as jamesqf suggests is a much better skeptical approach.
    – user11643
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 19:42

It is always hard to find proof of a negative. If the excuse were true, then the Trump Administration would have spread the evidence far and wide. Perhaps someone can post it if so. The closest I can find is coverage of the rally by the Star Tribune. It acknowledges that there were protesters in Tulsa:

Trump supporters, protesters face off outside Oklahoma rally

Hundreds of demonstrators flooded the city's downtown streets and blocked traffic at times, but police reported just a handful of arrests. Many of the marchers chanted, and some occasionally got into shouting matches with Trump supporters, who outnumbered them and yelled, "All lives matter."

There follows more detail about protest, some peaceful, some more violent, and about the actual entrance to the venue:

Trump campaign officials said protesters prevented the president's supporters from entering the stadium. Three Associated Press journalists reporting in Tulsa for several hours leading up to the president's speaking did not see protesters block entry to the area where the rally was held.

Also the BBC is of the opinion this is an excuse.

Blame the coronavirus for discouraging people from attending. Blame phantom protesters - as the Trump campaign did in a statement - for blocking access to the rally site. Blame mischievous liberals for flooding the campaign with fake ticket requests, encouraging the campaign to prepare for massive overflow crowds.

(My bolding)


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