Trump Claims He’s ‘Authorized the Federal Government’ to Arrest Anyone Vandalizing Monuments
President Donald Trump claimed on Tuesday that he has told the Federal Government to arrest anyone vandalizing a monument. Though several statues with racist associations have been taken down by protesters, Trump’s warning comes only after an attempt to remove a statue of former President Andrew Jackson.
“I have 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, or such other laws that may be pertinent,” Trump tweeted.
I have 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, or such other laws that may be pertinent…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2020
“This action is taken effective immediately, but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused. There will be no exceptions!” he said.
It’s hard not to see a direct connection between this threat and the attacks on Jackson’s statue. Trump has expressed admiration for Jackson, while some of his supporters in the media have compared Trump favorably to the 19th century president. This is in spite of the fact Jackson was virulent racist responsible for horrendous acts against Native Americans.
Trump also defended the statue on Monday night.
“Numerous people arrested in D.C. for the disgraceful vandalism, in Lafayette Park, of the magnificent Statue of Andrew Jackson, in addition to the exterior defacing of St. John’s Church across the street. 10 years in prison under the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act. Beware!” he tweeted.
The law Trump is referring to was passed in 2003 and was designed to punish those harming memorials to veterans. It is not clear if this would apply to the particular statute of Jackson, despite his service in the U.S. Army more than 200 years ago.