HUNDREDS of unmasked supporters watched President Trump slam the recent protests in his Fourth of July speech, and announce a new monument featuring “statues of the greatest Americans who ever lived.”
The president opened his speech by talking about the mountain carved with the faces of “the greatest Americans who ever lived.”
“This monument will never be desecrated. These heroes will never be disgraced. Their legacy will never, ever be destroyed.
“Their achievements will never be forgotten.
“And Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and our freedom.”
Trump spoke at the monument as:
His comments were met by cheers and chants of “USA” from the crowd.
Indigenous leaders have called for Mount Rushmore to be removed as it was built on sacred land.
During his speech, Trump said: “Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders.
“They think the American people are weak, soft and submissive.”
The president also announced an executive order that will place “statues of the greatest Americans to ever live” in The National Garden of American Heroes.
Hours earlier, protesters tried to disrupt the rally by blocking the road leading to the monument.
Authorities worked to move the demonstrators, mostly Native Americans protesting that the state’s Black Hills were taken from the Lakota people against treaty agreements.
About 15 protesters were arrested after missing a police-imposed deadline to leave, the Associated Press reported.
Both demonstrators and attendees at the event were seen flouting social distancing guidelines and very few were wearing coronavirus masks.
Hours before the event, a top Trump campaign official confirmed that Donald Trump Jr’s partner Kimberly Guilfoyle has tested positive for coronavirus.
However, Guilfoyle has not recently been with the president and neither has Don Jr, who tested negative for the virus, according to a person familiar with what happened.
Neither went to the event in South Dakota with Trump or traveled on Air Force One.
They are expected to drive back to the east coast to avoid contact with other people, the familiar source told the New York Times.
Sergio Gor, Chief of Staff to Trump Victory Finance committee, said: “After testing positive, Kimberly was immediately isolated to limit any exposure.
“She’s doing well, and will be retested to ensure the diagnosis is correct since she’s asymptomatic…
“…but as a precaution will cancel all upcoming events.
“Donald Trump Jr was tested negative, but as a precaution is also self isolating and is canceling all public events.”
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, South Dakota’s Republican governor, Kristi Noem, said during a recent interview that masks and social distancing won’t be required at the “large event.”
“We told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home, but those who want to come and join us, we’ll be giving out free face masks, if they choose to wear one.”
“But we will not be social distancing,” Noem said. “Every one of them has the opportunity to make a decision that they’re comfortable with.”
According to Recreation.gov, tickets for the event were given out through a lottery system and seats were broken up into two sections.
Those who are seated “in the amphitheater area or on the Grand View Terrace” may be subject to health screening requirements, the website said.
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The second area will require visitors to provide their own seating.
While the fireworks and entertainment were capped at 7,500 tickets, on normal days — before the coronavirus outbreak — roughly 28,000 to 32,000 people would visit the national memorial in a 10-hour period, CNN reported.
As of Friday evening, South Dakota has almost 7,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.