Donald Trump has authorized law enforcement to arrest anyone who vandalizes statues or other landmarks on federal property and sentence them to as much as a decade in prison. He said the measures can also be imposed retroactively.
The US president wrote on Twitter that he would no longer tolerate the destruction of federal property.
“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,” he said, adding that his instructions would be implemented “immediately” and may also be used retroactively to prosecute vandals.
“There will be no exceptions!” he warned.
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
Trump had earlier hinted that protesters who attacked a statue of Andrew Jackson, located across from the White House in Lafayette Park, could face years in prison. He said similar punishments could be imposed on those who vandalized the historic St. John’s Church.
Police intervened and dispersed the protesters as they attempted to pull down the Jackson statue on Monday. The statue, as well as the nearby church, was tagged with graffiti.
Countless statues and monuments have been vandalized and toppled across the United States. In most cases, police have been hesitant to get involved. Trump’s new directive appears to apply only to federal property – which likely means that many instances of vandalism will remain unpunished.
Featured image: © Getty Images via AFP / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Drew Angerer