US President Donald Trump revealed that the FBI is investigating ‘hundreds of people’ over the vandalism and destruction of statues and other federal property, as National Guard troops were called into the Washington D.C. to protect historic monuments from further vandalism.
Trump warned during a White House press briefing Wednesdayu that the consequences could mean 10 years in prison for the vandalism, which resulted after George Floyd protests erupted across the country over the cop-related slaying on Memorial Day.
‘The FBI is investigating hundreds of people throughout the country for what they’ve done to monuments, statues and even buildings,’ Trump said at the briefing alongside Polish President Andrzej Duda.
US President Donald Trump revealed that the FBI is investigating ‘hundreds of people’ over the vandalism and destruction of statues and other federal property, as National Guard troops were called into the Washington D.C. to protect historic monuments from further vandalism
‘We have a law that’s 10 years — it’s 10 years, that’s a long time to have fun one night,’ Trump said.
Even Duda weighed in about the vandalism, noting a monument to American Revolution volunteer Tadeusz Kościuszko, who was Polish, also was targeted.
‘For completely incomprehensible reasons for us, that monument was devastated,’ Duda said, speaking through a translator.
Trump’s remarks come as hundreds of unarmed National Guard troops have been called into Washington, D.C. to help protect historical monuments after protesters tried to topple a statue of Andrew Jackson during a night of demonstrations in the nation’s capital.
A statue of Confederate Army Officer Albert Pike already had been toppled on Friday.
US Defense officials on Wednesday confirmed the Interior Department requested assistance earlier this week after demonstrators targeted statues and established a so-called ‘Black House Autonomous Zone’ near the White House.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the government sources said the number of National Guard troops mobilized is in the low hundreds and none have been deployed to the streets yet.
Workers remove part of the cannon at the base of the equestrian statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square Park in front of the White House on Wednesday
Protesters were unsuccessful in toppling the statue, but they did manage to damage the wooden wheels of four replica cannons at the base of the monument
Photos on Wednesday showed the bronze statue of Andrew Jackson at Lafayette Park behind a high fence reinforcing a security perimeter after protesters tried to tear it down
Pictured are protesters Monday night in Lafayette Park in front of the White House trying to topple a bronze statue of former president Andrew Jackson as they also put up planks of wood declaring the area a ‘Black House Autonomous Zone’
The decision to bring in the troops came after Trump pledged to take a hard line on anyone destroying or vandalizing US historical monuments and threatened to use force on some protesters on Tuesday.
Photos taken at Lafayette Park on Wednesday showed the bronze statue of Jackson behind a high fence reinforcing a security perimeter.
Jackson served two terms in the White House, from 1829 to 1837, espousing a populist political style that has sometimes been compared with that of Trump.
A statue of Confederate Army Officer Albert Pike in Washington also had been toppled on Friday before demonstrators moved on to Jackson in front of the White House
Protesters were unsuccessful in toppling the statue, but they did manage to damage the wooden wheels of four replica cannons at the base of the monument.
Workers were seen removing parts of the cannons that were smashed during the protests this afternoon.
Trump had tweeted earlier that he was giving authorization ‘effective immediately’ to arrest anyone caught hurting a commemoration to an armed services member on federal land, even though the government already had that power under the 2003 Veterans Memorial Act.
Police were already on site Tuesday morning at the Andrew Jackson statue in front of the White House that had been graffitied at its base with the phrase ‘Killer’ after failed attempts to topple the monument
Protesters on Tuesday attempted to establish the area outside the North Lawn of the White House as the ‘Black House Autonomous Zone’
President Donald Trump voiced his fury over Monday night’s protests, declaring there will ‘never’ be an autonomous zone on Capitol Hill as long as he’s president and claiming those who try to establish such an area ‘will be met with serious force’
Twitter flagged another one of Trump’s tweets on Tuesday, claiming it breached it’s rules on ‘abusive behavior’ and warning users before they view the text of the post
He later added: ‘There will never be an ‘Autonomous Zone’ in Washington, D.C., as long as I’m your President. If they try they will be met with serious force!’
The tweet was later flagged by Twitter for violating ‘the Twitter Rules about abusive behavior.’
He also condemned the ‘disgraceful vandalism’ of the ‘magnificent’ statue of the controversial general Jackson, who Trump has touted as a personal hero, and also slammed people who defaced the exterior of St. John’s Church.
On Monday clean up crews were seen hosing down the statue, washing away graffiti that emblazoned the phrase ‘Killer’ on the base of the monument.
The bronze statue was cleaned by city workers Tuesday morning after it was defaced by hundreds of protesters
Police in Washington had used pepper spray to arrest protesters who were trying to tear down the statue while building the BHAZ – echoing Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) that was formed on June 8.
Creating such spaces is an occupation protest meant to establish a neighborhood without police.
Trump has been vocal about his contempt for the zone, slamming its occupants as ‘ugly Anarchists’ while urging the governor and mayor to ‘take back’ the area.
Many statues and monuments that pay homage to the rebel Confederacy from the nation’s Civil War era and are seen as tributes to those who perpetuated slavery have been targeted by demonstrating crowds in recent weeks.
Calls for the removal of these monuments, which came on the back of massive Black Lives Matter protests earlier this month and subsequent efforts by some local governments to reform their police forces, were sparked by George Floyd protests.
Lafayette Park has since become noteworthy due to clashes involving protesters and police.
On June 1, law enforcement officers on foot and horseback aggressively drove protesters away from Lafayette Park, clearing the way for President Donald Trump to do a photo op at nearby St. John’s Church.
Earlier this month, about 1,200 D.C. National Guard troops and 3,900 from other states were sent to the capital to back law enforcement during demonstrations.
The National Guard in Washington is the only one in the country that reports to Trump, with the authority delegated to the Army secretary.
The barricade for the ‘Black House Autonomous Zone’ pictured in Lafayette Park pictured, echoing Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. Creating such spaces is an occupation protest meant to establish a neighborhood without police
ANDREW JACKSON AND SLAVERY
By the time President Andrew Jackson died in 1845, he owned around 150 enslaved men, women and children. Jackson amassed much of his wealth due to the free labor, as they harvested cotton on the land surrounding Jackson’s Tennessee home, The Hermitage.
While Jackson died 16 years before the start of the Civil War, he had to deal with the issue of secession during his presidency. South Carolina threatened to secede over what Southerners called the ‘Tariff of Abominations’ enacted under Jackson’s predecessor, John Quincy Adams. This political crisis, the Nullification Crisis, pitted Jackson and the federal government against South Carolina, whose legislature called for a special state convention to adopt the Ordinance of Nullification, which said the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 were null and void.
Jackson threatened to send the military into South Carolina issuing the ‘Proclamation to the People of South Carolina,’ which asserted the supremacy of the federal government. The crisis ended with Congress passing a bill that would have allowed for Jackson to send forces into the state, but also another piece of legislation that lowered the controversial tariff.