WASHINGTON – Protesters defaced a statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square outside the White House on Monday night as they attempted to overthrow it, according to the Department of the Interior and media reports.
Jackson’s statue remained on its pedestal, according to The Associated Press. Videos posted on social media showed that protesters had climbed onto the statue and tied ropes around it, and then tried to remove it from its pedestal, the AP said.
When asked about reports of pepper spray use in Lafayette Park, a spokesperson for the National Park Service told NBC News: “I am still collecting information, but it is true that pepper spray was used to withdraw protesters from the statue and clear the area. ” “
Home Secretary David L. Bernhardt said in a statement that he had just left the scene in Lafayette Square “where another so-called” peaceful protest “led to destruction tonight. Let me be clear: We will not bow to anarchists. law and order will prevail, and justice will be done. “
He added that the Jackson statue has been “defaced by criminals who attempted to tear down the statue in recognition of the seventh president of the United States. Law enforcement officials said this would not happen.”
The US Park Police USA With the help of the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department and the Secret Service, they tried to prevent the destruction of the statue, a park police spokesman told NBC News.
Interior Department spokesman Nicholas Goodwin said arrests were made in Lafayette Square, but gave no further details.
On Tuesday morning, police clashed with a small group of protesters outside Lafayette Park as they backed up a perimeter several blocks.
President Donald Trump tweeted Monday night: “Numerous people arrested in DC for the embarrassing vandalism, in Lafayette Park, of the magnificent Statue of Andrew Jackson, in addition to the exterior disfigurement of the Church of St. John across the street. 10 years in prison under the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act. Beware! “
Trump told reporters on Tuesday that police stopped an attack on a “great monument” and said that “numerous people are in jail and are going to jail today.”
“We are looking for long-term prison terms for these hooligans and these thugs and these anarchists and agitators and we call them whatever they want. Some people don’t like that language, but that’s what they are. They are bad people, they don’t love our country, and they are not tearing down our monuments, “he said.
Jackson was a slaver from Tennessee and signed a law that led to the expulsion of Native Americans east of the Mississippi River, in which the federal government forcibly moved them west. According to the Library of Congress, some 4,000 Cherokees died in the march that became known as the “Trail of Tears.”
Trump expressed admiration for Jackson, who was populist, even during a 2017 visit to the Hermitage, Jackson’s plantation. According to the Hermitage, Jackson had about 150 slaves at the time of his death.
Freddie Tunnard and Allan Smith contributed