President Trump declared Tuesday morning that anyone caught destroying monuments or any other federal property can be arrested and face up to 10 years in prison.
The president’s latest statement follows an attempt to tear down a statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square in Washington, DC, near the White House on Monday night, a second incident targeting nearby St. John’s Church and vandalism. prior to the Lincoln Memorial and World War II. Monument.
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“I have authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who destroys or destroys any federal monument, statue or other property in the United States with up to 10 years in prison, in accordance with the Veterans Monument Preservation Act or any other law that may be relevant, Trump tweeted. “This action takes effect immediately, but can also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused. There will be no exceptions!”
Representative of House of Representatives minority leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Called the church attack “a chilling message that faith and freedom are enemies in the eyes of street anarchists.” , adding that those responsible “must be prosecuted.”
Historical monuments and statues have become targets of anger and vandalism during protests in the wake of George Floyd’s police custody death in late May.
The initial statues under fire were those of Confederate soldiers and generals largely in the south, but anger has spread to monuments far beyond that historical period.
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On Thursday, protesters in Portland, Oregon, knocked down a statue of President George Washington. On Friday, protesters in San Francisco defaced and demolished the statue of former President Ulysses S. Grant, who led the Union Army during the Civil War.
Jackson, who has faced anger today for his harsh treatment of Native Americans, was the latest historical figure to be attacked by protesters demanding that monuments and monuments be torn down by those with racist pasts. Reuters reported that while protesters were unable to tear down the Jackson statue, it was defaced on Monday night with a “murderous scum” written on the pedestal.
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The Veterans Monument Preservation Act that Trump cited requires up to 10 years behind bars and a fine for anyone who damages or attempts to harm “any structure, plaque, statue, or other monument on public property that commemorates the service of any person or people in the United States military. “
Trump said Monday night that he will sign an executive order aimed at protecting statues and general public monuments from damage or destruction.
“We are going to make an executive order and have cities keep their monuments,” Trump told Eternal Word Television Network’s Raymond Arroyo. “This is a disgrace.”
Caleb Parke, Charles Creitz and Edmund DeMarche of Fox News contributed to this report.