Alarming photos have emerged from the 2020 Republican National Convention of more than 1000 Trump supporters ignoring social distancing while packing out the White House lawn for the president’s speech.
US President Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination for a second term on Thursday night (local time) while a crowd of more than 1000 chanted “four more years”.
However the event was heavily scrutinised for not following protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic, with barely any of the attendees wearing masks or social distancing.
More than 180,000 people have died in the United States from the coronavirus – more than any other country – amid a fresh wave of protests over the latest high-profile police shooting of a Black American.
The made-for-television scene stood in marked contrast with Biden's acceptance speech last week, which was broadcast live from a largely empty arena in acknowledgment of the risk of coronavirus.
The crowd at Trump’s convention, seated in white chairs inches apart, showed little evidence of social distancing or face masks despite health experts' recommendations.
One on Twitter dubbed it a “superspreader event” and said it was an example of “gross irresponsibility”.
“Trump tells America that his administration is relying on science to fight COVID-19, as he talk-spits into a crammed crowd of non-social-distancing lemmings, 99 per cent of which are not wearing masks,” another agreed.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper also tweeted Trump was met with a standing ovation while paying his respect to medical professionals fighting the coronavirus, even though attendees were not practising social distancing on the White House’s South Lawn.
President Trump paid respect to medical professionals fighting the Covid-19 pandemic with a standing ovation during the #RNC2020, where hundreds of attendees were not practicing social distancing on the South Lawn at the White House. https://t.co/EPfcdPH7v8 pic.twitter.com/nI8h80VujI— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) August 28, 2020
Some claimed the event showed the “opposite of leadership”.
“... just like Trump, sends the message that these things aren’t important. Hope it was worth it. Non-compliance brought us the last shutdown,” one tweeted.
Trump’s blistering attack on Democrat Joe Biden
During his speech, Trump launched a blistering attack on his democratic rival Joe Biden, asserting that a Biden victory in November would only exacerbate the racial strife and coronavirus pandemic besieging the nation.
Speaking from the White House South Lawn despite criticism he was using the executive residence as a political prop, Trump portrayed Biden as a career politician with a long record as a moderate, as a far-left extremist who would usher in a lawless, dangerous America.
"This election will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans, or whether we give free rein to violent anarchic agitators and criminals who threaten our citizens," Trump said on the fourth and final night of the Republican National Convention in a rambling speech that lasted more than an hour.
"No one will be safe in Biden's America."
After days of civil unrest and violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where on Sunday police shot a black man, Jacob Blake, in the back, Republicans on Thursday sought to turn the chaos to their advantage by claiming Biden would "defund the police". Biden has rejected that position.
In trying to paint Biden as a tool of the "radical left", Trump also distorted the Democrat's policy positions on a host of other issues, including immigration, guns, law enforcement, abortion and energy production.
As the night unfolded, Biden struck back on Twitter, writing: "When Donald Trump says tonight you won't be safe in Joe Biden's America, look around and ask yourself: How safe do you feel in Donald Trump's America?"
In a reminder of the country's divisions, attendees could hear anti-Trump protesters at nearby Black Lives Matter Plaza as he spoke.
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