Protesters angered by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis have extended that rage to the toppling of monuments they deem racist, including statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both torn down in Portland, Oregon.
One response to the removal of former presidents, confederate leaders and others associated with slavery may occur soon with Trump’s plan to sign an executive order to punish those who attempt to deface or destroy the monuments.
On Tuesday, June 23, as he left the White House to speak in Arizona, Trump told reporters that his administration is “looking at long-term jail sentences” for “anarchists.”
He offered praise to the law enforcement officers who assembled last night to block the toppling of Andrew Jackson’s statue in Lafayette Square near the White House.
While Jackson is still astride his horse on the pedestal, it has been defaced.
Trump tweeted that he has “authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the U.S. with up to 10 years in prison, per the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act.”
In advance of the demonstrators’ actions, many states have moved on their own to take down statues of controversial figures, particularly those associated with the Confederacy. Even in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has taken steps to remove the statue of Teddy Roosevelt from in front of the American Museum of National History. The statue with Roosevelt riding a horse with a Black man and a Native American on either side has been viewed as hierarchical, though some deem Roosevelt’s actions after the Spanish American War as racist.