Trump says he’s signed a ‘strong’ order to protect monuments and statues
President Trump used Twitter on Friday to call for the arrest of protesters involved in this week’s attempt to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson from a park directly in front of the White House. He also tweeted that he had signed an executive order to protect monuments, memorials and statues.
Trump retweeted an FBI wanted poster showing pictures of 15 protesters who are wanted for “vandalization of federal property.”
He wrote, “MANY people in custody, with many others being sought for Vandalization of Federal Property in Lafayette Park. 10 year prison sentences!”
Trump later Friday announced his executive order, which he had promised earlier in the week. He described it as “strong” but did not immediately release the text.
He also said on Twitter that he had scrapped plans to spend the weekend at his central New Jersey home to stay in Washington “to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced.”
“These arsonists, anarchists, looters, and agitators have been largely stopped,” Trump tweeted. “I am doing what is necessary to keep our communities safe — and these people will be brought to Justice!”
The move, seen by many as a racial justice measure, faces solid opposition in the Senate, but backers hail the vote as a major milestone.
Protesters on Monday night attempted to drag the Jackson statue down with ropes and chains. Police repelled the protesters and sealed off Lafayette Park, which had been reopened to the public for more than a week after protests against the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. On Tuesday, police cleared out the entire area around the corner of 16th and H streets — and pushed demonstrators away from the intersection, which the city had recently renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza.
Statistics released by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department show that nine people were arrested Tuesday night and a total of 12 arrested between Monday and Wednesday. There were no protest-related arrests Thursday, according to the MPD.
Demonstrators have grown increasingly emboldened about targeting statues deemed offensive or inappropriate. On June 19, or Juneteenth, the day marking the end of slavery in the United States, cheering crowds pulled down a statue of former Confederate Gen. Albert Pike. The statue stood on federal land and had withstood previous attempts by the Washington, D.C., government to remove it. According to participants, police officers were on the scene but did not attempt to interfere.
The targeting of the statues has become a rallying cry for Trump and other conservatives. Immediately after the Pike statue was toppled and set ablaze, Trump called the incident a “disgrace to our Country!” on Twitter.
On Tuesday he tweeted, “I have authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the U.S. with up to 10 years in prison, per the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act, or such other laws that may be pertinent.”
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