Donald Trump signs executive order authorising up to 10 years in prison for damaging federal property after Washington protesters try to tear down statue

The order calls on the attorney general to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law any person or group that destroys or vandalises a monument, memorial or statue, authorising a penalty of up to 10 years in prison

The Associated Press June 27, 2020 09:06:31 IST
Donald Trump signs executive order authorising up to 10 years in prison for damaging federal property after Washington protesters try to tear down statue

Washington: President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday to protect monuments, memorials and statues facing new scrutiny amid fresh debate over the nation's racist beginnings.

Trump had promised to take action earlier this week after police thwarted an attempt by protesters to pull down a statue of Andrew Jackson in a park across from the White House.

The order calls on the attorney general to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law any person or group that destroys or vandalises a monument, memorial or statue. Federal law authorises a penalty of up to 10 years in prison for the “willful injury” of federal property.

The order also calls for maximum prosecution for anyone who incites violence and illegal activity, and it threatens state and local law enforcement agencies that fail to protect monuments with the loss of federal funding.

Trump announced earlier Friday on Twitter that he had signed the order and called it “strong".

Earlier in the day, the president used Twitter to call for the arrest of protesters involved with the attempt to bring down the Jackson statue from Lafayette Park.

He retweeted an FBI wanted poster showing pictures of 15 protesters who are wanted for “vandalization of federal property". Trump wrote, “MANY people in custody, with many others being sought for Vandalization of Federal Property in Lafayette Park. 10 year prison sentences!”

He also said on Twitter that he had scrapped plans to spend the weekend at his central New Jersey home to stay in Washington “to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced.”

“These arsonists, anarchists, looters, and agitators have been largely stopped," Trump tweeted. "I am doing what is necessary to keep our communities safe — and these people will be brought to Justice!"

Protesters on Monday night attempted to drag the Jackson statue down with ropes and chains. Police repelled the protesters and sealed off Lafayette Park, which had been reopened to the public for more than a week after protests against the death of George Floyd at police hands in Minnesota. On Tuesday, police cleared out the entire area around the corner of 16th and H streets — and pushed demonstrators away from the intersection, which had recently been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza by the city.

Statistics released by the Metropolitan Police Department show that nine people were arrested Tuesday night and a total of 12 arrested between Monday and Wednesday. There were no protest-related arrests Thursday, according to the MPD data.

Demonstrators have grown increasingly emboldened about targeting statues deemed offensive or inappropriate. On 19 June, or Juneteenth, the day marking the end of slavery in the United States, cheering crowds puled down a statue of Confederate Gen. Albert Pike. The statue stood on federal land and had withstood previous attempts by the Washington, DC, government to remove it. According to participants, police officers were on the scene but did not attempt to interfere.

The targeting of the statues has become a rallying cry for Trump and other conservatives. Immediately after the Pike statute was toppled and set ablaze, Trump called the incident a "disgrace to our Country!” on Twitter.

On Tuesday he tweeted, “I have authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the US with up to 10 years in prison, per the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act, or such other laws that may be pertinent.”

Updated Date:

also read

USA Today fights FBI subpoena seeking records on readers of Florida shooting story
World

USA Today fights FBI subpoena seeking records on readers of Florida shooting story

The news comes as the Justice Department has disclosed in recent weeks that it seized the email and phone records of reporters in at least three separate instances during the Trump administration.

Complaints of corruption against individuals in high offices fall but still deep-rooted in India
India

Complaints of corruption against individuals in high offices fall but still deep-rooted in India

Despite a plethora of legal frameworks to address the issue of corruption, it has barely helped address it on the ground

Vladimir Putin formalises Russia's withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty citing 'lack of progress'
World

Vladimir Putin formalises Russia's withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty citing 'lack of progress'

The treaty, which aimed to repair ties and smoothen bilateral relations between countries during and after the Cold War, was proposed in 1955 by then-US president Dwight Eisenhower