President Trump ordered an offensive against anyone caught up in vandalism or toppling monuments amid a wave of Confederates and other statues that were toppled by people protesting racial injustice.
The commander-in-chief wrote in a tweet Tuesday morning: “I have authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who destroys or destroys any such monument, statue or other federal property in the United States with up to 10 years in prison, according to Veterans. ” Memorial Preservation Law, or any other law that may be relevant. “
Trump warned protesters that the order will be “effective immediately, but can also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused.” There will be no exceptions! “
Speaking to reporters as he was leaving the White House to visit parts of the border wall in Arizona, Trump said he would soon sign an executive order that would allow people who smashed the statues to be prosecuted.
“We are looking for long-term prison terms for these hooligans and these thugs, and these anarchists and agitators – call it what you like – some people don’t like that language, but that’s what they are,” said the president. “They are bad people, they don’t love our country, and they are not destroying our monuments, I just want to make that clear.”
He also said that his administration was prepared to help state and municipal governments struggling to contain the protests.
“In Minnesota, they may need help. If they need help, the federal government is willing to help them, “he continued. “These are not protesters, by the way, they are anarchists and other things. If these thugs arrive and the states can’t handle it, we are ready, willing, and able to help. ”
These comments echo previous comments the president made to Fox News on Monday night, when the commander-in-chief promised to sign an executive order on the matter, forcing cities to protect the monuments.
“You see Ulysses S. Grant, where they want to take him down. He was the one who stopped everyone who doesn’t like them that much. That is a misfortune. Also, remember, some of this is a great work of art, it is a magnificent work of art, as good as it is anywhere in the world. As good as you see in France. As good as you see anywhere. It is a disgrace, ”he told the network.
Speaking to Fox News on Tuesday morning, Trump again denounced those who were attacking the statues.
“I don’t like it at all, I don’t like it at all. I don’t like anything that’s going on. Now federal I stopped, I stopped federal. But the states are: many states are weak, many people are weak and they are allowing this to happen, “the president told the network in an interview in the Oval Office.
Trump took the road against efforts to tear down the statues of Mahatma Gandhi and Grant, specifically.
“You have to understand history, you have to understand culture and many other aspects of our country,” added Trump. “And people can study [slavery] and they can hate it, and we all hate it, but you can’t knock down the George Washington statue. And half of our country is named Washington. We have to remember the heritage, the culture of our country ”.
The decision comes when monuments of historical figures across the country and cities abroad have been attacked during civil unrest for the murder of George Floyd, a black man unarmed by Minneapolis police.
Officials across the country have promised to reevaluate their monuments, in some cases promising to directly tear them down. Despite this, some protesters have taken it upon themselves to severely vandalize or demolish statues that they consider controversial.