Social distancing will not be enforced at President Donald Trump’s Independence Day celebration at Mount Rushmore.
“We will have a large event at July 3rd. We told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home,” Noem said.
She continued, “But those who want to come and join us, we’ll be giving out free face masks, if they choose to wear one.”
However, she clarified, “We will not be social distancing.”
Noem’s comments come days before Trump is scheduled to travel to the state. A website for the event says participation will be limited to 7,500 people.
The trip is not without controversy, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) criticized the venue in a since-deleted tweet, “Trump has disrespected Native communities time and again. He’s attempted to limit their voting rights and blocked critical pandemic relief.”
“Now he’s holding a rally glorifying white supremacy at Mount Rushmore, a region once sacred to tribal communities,” the DNC added.
George Washington unified our nation.
Thomas Jefferson wrote "All men are created equal."
Abraham Lincoln ended slavery.
Teddy Roosevelt was the first President to dine with a black man at the White House.
— Kristi Noem (@KristiNoem) June 30, 2020
Noem accused Democrats of trying to “slander” the former presidents depicted on the monument.
In a tweet, she said, “George Washington unified our nation. Thomas Jefferson wrote ‘All men are created equal.’ Abraham Lincoln ended slavery. Teddy Roosevelt was the first President to dine with a black man at the White House.”
“It is shameful for [the Democrats] to slander these great leaders,” she added.
While Noem has welcomed Trump’s visit, some have noted that the sculptor of Mount Rushmore had ties to white supremacists. And the monument has been labeled a “symbol of white supremacy” and “structural racism.”
And Julian Bear Runner, the president of Oglala Sioux, said Native Americans were not consulted when the monument was constructed on land they consider to be sacred.
Additionally, he said he would like to see the monument removed.
The celebration event also comes as all but two states are reporting an increase in coronavirus cases compared to the previous week.
Despite concerns about the spread of the virus, Trump has held a series of public events recently.
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