President Donald Trump has authorised the arrest of anyone who destroys or vandalises statues and said he wants to hand down prison sentences of up to ten years for this crime.
This is the maximum federal penalty and the president said the executive order would “reinforce” existing law.
“We are looking at long-term jail sentences for these vandals and these hoodlums and these anarchists and agitators,” Trump said, referring to protesters who have vented their anger over racial injustice by toppling statues of figures tied to America’s racist history.
He spoke out after an attempt on Monday night to bring down a Lafayette Park statue of Andrew Jackson, one of Trump’s favourite presidents, was foiled by police in the park across from the White House.
Trump argued the pendulum has swung too far in favour of removing statues and other symbols of flawed history, and saying mistakes will be repeated if not learned from and understood.
The president’s campaign also sees the divide over this latest cultural flash point as a way to boost the president’s standing, which has suffered during his handling of the coronavirus outbreak and the protests over racial injustice that followed George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis.
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.....