President Trump used much of his speech in Arizona on Tuesday night to mock his liberal opponents and criticize his rhetoric amid weeks of protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
Speaking at a “Students for Trump” event inside a Phoenix church, Trump criticized “left’s oppressive ideology” and criticized calls to remove statues and monuments to controversial historical figures.
“The radical left hates our history, hates our values,” said Trump. “This is not the behavior of a peaceful movement. It is the behavior of a totalitarian movement.”
Trump added: “If you empower people who tear down monuments … then nothing is certain.”
FROM GEORGE WASHINGTON TO ULYSSES S. GRANT: STATUES, VANDALIZED MONUMENTS EXTEND BEYOND THE CONFEDERATES AMONG THE BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTESTS
While groups for years have been calling for the removal of monuments to the Confederacy and other historical figures who espoused racist or xenophobic ideas, the movement to topple them has gained new momentum following the death of George Floyd last month in police custody of Minneapolis and the protests that followed.
Trump already promised on Monday to sign an executive order to protect public statues and monuments from damage or destruction, and on Tuesday morning said that anyone caught busting monuments or any other federal property can be arrested and face up to 10 years in prison. . .
The president’s comment followed 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 directed at nearby St. John’s Church and previous vandalism. from the Lincoln Memorial and World War II. .
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The initial statues under fire were those of Confederate soldiers and generals largely in the south, but anger has spread to monuments beyond that historical period.
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.
Andrew Jackson, who has faced anger today over his harsh treatment of Native Americans, was the latest historical figure to be attacked by protesters demanding that monuments and memorials be demolished to 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.
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.