President Donald Trump has doubled his support for the country’s divisive monuments, signing an executive order Friday that strengthens laws protecting statues across the United States.
“I have had the privilege of signing a very strong executive order protecting American landmarks, monuments and statues and fighting recent criminal violence,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Friday. “Long prison terms for these illegal acts against our Great Country!”
Monuments to Confederate leaders and other controversial figures such as Christopher Columbus have been targeted by activists as protests against police violence against blacks swept the world this month. The latest demonstrations have resulted in actions for which activists have long pushed, such as the removal of the statue of Theodore Roosevelt from the front of the Natural History Museum. At the same time, the question of monuments appeared as an opportunity for political maneuver during an election year.
Under the terms of the new order, it is the policy of the United States to prosecute to the fullest extent possible under federal law any person who destroys, damages, vandals or desecrates a monument, memorial or statue in the United States. The federal government will withhold funding from state and local police forces that “fail to protect monuments, memorials and statues”.
Police intervened near the White House in Lafayette Square in Washington, DC last Monday, using pepper spray to stop an attack on a statue of President Andrew Jacksonwho, protesters noted, was also a slave operator who caused the Deaths of thousands of Native Americans forcibly remove them from their lands through what has become known as the Trail of Tears.
In response, Trump posted on Twitter threatening protesters with 10 years in prison under the 2003 Veterans Memorial Preservation Act, which criminalizes attempts to injure or destroy any structure, plaque, statue or other monument. on public property commemorating the service of all people. or members of the United States armed forces. The new executive order orders the Attorney General to give priority to the administration of this and other related laws.
We are considering long-term prison terms for these vandals and thugs and anarchists and agitators and we call them what you like. Some people don’t like this language, but that’s what they are. They are bad people, they do not like our country and they are not destroying our monuments, Trump told reporters Tuesday.
Many people arrested in Washington for shameful vandalism at Lafayette Park of the magnificent statue of Andrew Jackson, in addition to the exterior degradation of St. Johns Church across the street. 10 years in prison under the Veterans Memorial Preservation Act. You must beware!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2020
The ordinance does not mention that the demonstrators concentrated largely on the Confederate monuments, most of which were erected decades after the war, after the end of the reconstruction, as part of a campaign to build the myth “Cause lost ”.
Instead, it highlights the overthrow of a statue of President Ulysses S. Grant in San Francisco and an abolitionist soldier in Chicago, graffiti painted on a Boston memorial to an African American war regiment civil war and the vandalism of a monument to World War II veterans in Charlotte. The “influential activist”, probably a political commentator, Shaun King, also said that many existing religious representations of Jesus and the Holy Family should be eliminated from our places of worship.
“The selection of targets by violent extremists reveals a profound ignorance of our history and shows a desire to destroy without discrimination all that honors our past and to erase from the public mind any suggestion that our past deserves to be honored, cherished, remembered, or understood, ”notes the order.
The president has personally asked the Washington DC parks department to reinstall the city’s only Confederate monument after it was demolished by protesters, according to NBC. City activists have also called for the removal of the Emancipation Memorial, in which President Abraham Lincoln appears to free a black man kneeling from slavery. The work has been criticized for downplaying the power of enslaved peoples.
“Although Americans who had already been enslaved paid to have this statue built in 1876, the design and sculpture process was done without their help, and it shows,” Democratic delegate Eleanor told ABC Holmes Norton of DC, who introduced legislation to suppress the work. . “The statue fails to note how the enslaved African Americans pushed for their own emancipation.
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