Trump issues executive order warning cities and protesters of monument destruction

The order characterizes protesters who actively seek to undermine the integrity of the United States government, referring to them as “anarchists and left-wing extremists,” and comes a day after Trump branded the protesters as “terrorists” they will confront. ” retaliation”.

Trump previously tweeted that tearing down the statues should take protesters to 10 years in prison, citing the Veterans Monuments Recognition and Preservation Act. The law limits the punishment for disfiguring military monuments on public land to 10 years in prison, a fine, or both.

“Many of the rioters, arsonists, and left extremists who have carried out and supported these acts have explicitly identified themselves with ideologies, such as Marxism, that call for the destruction of the United States government system,” he ordered. said.

Attorney General William Barr announced in a department memorandum Friday the creation of a task force to counter what he called “violent extremists against the government,” whom he distinguished from “a peaceful demonstration protected by the First Amendment.” Barr characterized those who have targeted public property as domestic terrorists and urged the cooperation of all levels of government in the department’s efforts.

Trump has demanded a stronger response from states and local governments after protesters flooded city streets across the country following the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minnesota.

Trump rebuked Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, both Democrats, in a letter on Friday for not doing more to bring “law and order” to the city. His letter says the city has seen an increase in crime because the police were pulled to handle protests elsewhere. Trump listed a series of federal funds dedicated to the city for law enforcement and claimed that Lightfoot and Pritzker had been unable to use them effectively.

“Unfortunately, you continue to put your own political interests ahead of the lives, security, and fortunes of your own citizens,” said Trump’s letter. “The people of Chicago deserve better.”

Washington Governor Jay Inslee seemed baffled by the executive order during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Friday night. Inslee said Trump should focus more on the spread of the coronavirus as infections grow, particularly in the southern and western states.

“I wish he cared more about living Americans than about dead Confederates,” Inslee said.

The protests have rekindled conversations about the legacy of historical figures who have advanced into slavery or colonialism. Organizations from NASCAR to the US Marine Corps have begun to publicly rebuke the Confederate symbols.

Protesters behind the collapse of Confederate monuments say those figures are best studied in schools or museums, and that statues glorify indefensible acts.

Still, Trump has rejected those efforts, claiming that statues and flags teach history. On Tuesday, he spoke to an audience of young supporters in Phoenix about how US park police prevented protesters from tearing down a statue of Andrew Jackson, who signed the Indian Expulsion Act, outside the White House. He told the student audience that protesters “hate our history, they hate our values, and they hate everything we value as Americans.”

“If you empower people who demolish monuments and attack churches and take over city streets and burn down buildings, then nothing is sacred and nothing is certain,” Trump said during the Phoenix rally. “We stopped them last night.”

After signing the executive order, Trump tweeted on Friday: “I just had the privilege of signing a very strong executive order that protects American monuments, memorials and statues, and combat recent criminal violence. Long prison terms for these acts illegal against our Great Country! “

Members of both sides have expressed support for the deletion of the Confederation’s legacy from national institutions. Bipartisan legislation emerged last week in both the House and Senate to remove the names of Confederate leaders from military bases. But Trump has said he would not consider any such legislation and mocked the initiatives on Twitter soon after.