Members of Generation Z are claiming on social media that the “Zoomers” are at least partially responsible for a number of empty seats at President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday night.
As part of a campaign organised on social media, they reserved masses of tickets to the rally that they had no intention of using.
The rally-busting movement involved young TikTok users and K-Pop fans around the nation, according to the prank participants who posted their (unused) ticket confirmations or commented (and celebrated) online after the rally.
Political strategist Steve Schmidt boasted on Twitter that his daughter and her friends in Park City, Utah, signed up for “hundreds” of free tickets to the rally they had absolutely no intention of attending. “You have been rolled by America’s teens,” Schmidt mocked Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale in a tweet.
Others responded to Schmidt’s tweets, saying they or their kids had also made fake ticket reservations.
The movement appears to have been launched by Mary Jo Laupp, a 51-year-old teacher from Iowa, who had worked on Pete Buttigieg’s campaign, CNN reported. She explained her idea in a TikTok video that had 700,000 likes by late Saturday.
On Saturday night, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted at Parscale, saying he got “ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign” with fake reservations. The congresswoman also hailed “K-Pop allies,” saying: “We see and appreciate your contributions in the fight for justice, too.”
She added a “shout out to Zoomers. Y’all make me so proud.”
Trump’s campaign had heard of the plot, but may have misjudged its reach. Erin Perrine, principle deputy communications director for the Trump campaign, told CNN last week it was no big concern.
“Leftists do this all the time,” she said. “They think if they sign up for tickets that will leave empty seats. Not the case at all. Always way more ticket requests than seats available at a rally. All they are doing is giving us access to their contact information.”
Usually, tickets aren’t required for campaign rallies, the campaign told CNN. But the situation was different for the Tulsa event, because reservations included a legal disclaimer that participants wouldn’t sue Trump or the campaign if they contracted COVID-19 at the rally. And without a reservation, there would be no legal waiver for attendees to agree to beforehand.
When videos from the event showed huge swathes of empty blue seats at the BOK Center where Trump spoke, which holds 19,000 people, TikTok users were thrilled.
“What did you guys do?” a stunned Laupp asked in a video Saturday after seeing the empty seats. “Like, seriously? Are you kidding me right now?”