Exactly three weeks earlier, a similar violent clash had taken place in the historic public park when police officers and National Guard troops deployed flash grenades, rubber bullets, and tear gas to disperse the apparently peaceful protesters in the area, causing that allowed Trump to present a political photo. Opportunity in front of a nearby church.
Amid Monday’s protests, the phrase “BHAZ: Black House Autonomous Zone” was spray painted on a piece of plywood on H Street, and “BHAZ” was also graffiti on the columns of the Episcopal Church of San Juan, where the president posed with a Bible earlier this month.
“Numerous people arrested in DC for the shameful vandalism, in Lafayette Park, of the magnificent Statue of Andrew Jackson, in addition to the exterior deterioration of the Church of St. John across the street,” Trump tweeted Monday night. “10 years in prison under the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act. Beware!”
As protests against police brutality and racial injustice continue to unfold across the country, White House allies and conservative media have highlighted incidents of looting and riots that have accompanied some of the mass protests.
Republicans have especially targeted the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” in Seattle, where local police essentially abandoned a police station two weeks ago and ceded several blocks in the Capitol Hill neighborhood to protesters.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Monday that she would move to dispel the “occupied” protest zone after two weekend shootings. Trump has criticized Durkan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Twitter and has repeatedly argued that the “CHAZ” is run by “anarchists.”
The president used harsher rhetoric on Tuesday to condemn protesters in Lafayette Square, threatening to prosecute them under a 2003 federal statute that imposed criminal penalties for the destruction of monuments commemorating American military service.
“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 is effective immediately, but it can also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused,” he added. “There will be no exceptions!”
Speaking to reporters outside the White House Tuesday morning, Trump said administration officials “are seeking long-term prison terms for these vandals and these thugs and these anarchists and agitators,” calling them “bad people. “who” do not love our country. “
Trump also announced that he would issue an executive order related to the monuments “very soon,” but offered few details about the possible move. “All it’s really going to do is reinforce what’s already there, but in a more uniform way,” he said.
Associated Press contributed to this report.