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Mount Rushmore: Trump hosts 4 July celebration event amid criticism

U.S. President Donald Trump visited Mount Rushmore in the midwestern state South Dakota on Friday to kick off Independence Day weekend, slamming the removal of controversial monuments amid nationwide racial reckoning as "a merciless campaign" in attempts to wipe out U.S. history.

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Trump will then travel back to Washington DC on Saturday to view military flyovers at the National Mall and a pyrotechnics display.

"Ms. Guilfoyle traveled to South Dakota with Mr. Trump's son Donald Trump Jr., in anticipation of attending a huge fireworks display where the president was set to speak".

Speaking underneath a famed landmark that depicts four USA presidents, Trump warned that the demonstrations over racial inequality in American society threatened the foundations of the US political system.

The protesters criticized the President for increasing the risk of spreading the coronavirus in South Dakota, which has not been hard hit by the virus.

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The president then warned that this movement represented an existential threat to the country: saying "This left-wing cultural revolution is created to overthrow the American revolution". Some held their fists in the air as cars loaded with event attendees passed by.

A number of Native American protesters were arrested in the Black Hills National Forest, where Mount Rushmore is located, for attempting to block access to the famous monument. "It's an injustice to actively steal Indigenous people's land then carve the white faces of the conquerors who committed genocide".

Protesters said they oppose President Donald Trump's administration.

Others are concerned that wildfires could be sparked by the first fireworks show at Mount Rushmore since 2009.

On Saturday, Trump is to appear at the Salute To America event and give remarks on the South Lawn of the White House.

His political supporters say there will be no social distancing at the event, but masks will be available.

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South Dakota, solidly Republican, has not been infected as badly as other states, but cases in Pennington County, where Mount Rushmore is, have more than doubled in the past month.

Pepper spray was deployed during the clearing of the road.

After almost two hours the crowd began to dwindle and police advanced past the vans as the remaining protesters retreated down the road.

"Mount Rushmore is a symbol of white supremacy, of structural racism that's still alive and well in society today", Nick Tilsen, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe and president of a local activist organization called NDN Collective, told The Associated Press.

The state of play: Mostly-Native American demonstrators lined the road leading to the monument ahead of the event, the AP reports. Police wearing riot gear and holding shields moved in on the protesters from both sides and warned them to disperse but took no further action.

Many other US cities have canceled or scaled back their firework displays this year because of the pandemic and concerns of large groups of people gathering. Trump's schedule indicates he will arrive at the monument by helicopter.

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