A Washington D.C. man has been arrested after being identified as the ‘ringleader’ in at attempted to bring down a statue of Andrew Jackson outside the White House.
Jason Charter was arrested at his home by the FBI and U.S. Park Police on Thursday morning and charged with destruction of federal property.
Charter is alleged to have played a major role in attempting to the topple the historic monument.
Federal prosecutors have charged Jason Charter who is believed to be the alleged ringleader involved in vandalizing the statue of former President Andrew Jackson
Jason Charter appears in social media to be an antifa supporter
Demonstrators were seen using chains to try and topple the bronze statue on June 22nd
Protesters congregated night after night in Lafayette Square in Washington DC
The FBI’s criminal complaint was based upon video footage and screengrabs gathered by local news stations on the destruction of another statue in the city, of Albert Pike.
The FBI alleges that local news video shows Charter seen ‘standing over the toppled Pike Statue, pouring an unknown liquid onto the statue.’
Charter could be seen ‘waving others away from the statue, and squatting down behind the statue where his hands are not visible. Seconds later, the statue catches fire. Charter is said to be ‘seen standing over the flames as it burns.’
According to Fox News, sources say that Charter has connections to Antifa.
Charter declared the bringing down of statues to be a ‘national service’ rather than a crime
Protesters on Monday night are pictured attempting to pull down the statue of Trump’s hero
Charter’s Twitter and Facebook profile shows him wearing various face masks which made law enforcement’s job of identifying him even easier
‘They were very organized. Charter was on top of the statue and directing people … they had acid, chisels, straps and a human chain preventing police from getting to the statue,’ a federal law enforcement official said of the attempt on the night of June 22nd to bring down the statue at Lafayette Park outside the White House.
‘At the Jackson Statue incident, Charter is additionally seen wearing a red set of ski goggles and a yellow ventilator mask. Charter’s face is clearly visible at different times during each incident.’
The joint Park Service and FBI complaint also includes a tweet from a Twitter account under Charter’s name that states: ‘Tearing down statues of traitors to the nation is a service to this nation not a crime.’
‘At the Jackson Statue incident, Charter is additionally seen wearing a red set of ski goggles and a ventilator mask. Charter’s face is clearly visible at different times
Charter is also believed to have participated in another protest on June 26 at Lincoln Park in Washington.
On that occasion, demonstrators were looking for the toppling of a statue of Abraham Lincoln.
Charter is expected to appear in U.S. District Court in Washington at some time on Thursday.
Last week four other men accused of damaging the Jackson statue were charged with destruction of federal property in connection with their alleged effort to tear down monument.
The four are Lee Michael Cantrell, 47, of Virginia; Connor Matthew Judd, 20, of Washington, D.C.; Ryan Lane, 37, of Maryland; and Graham Lloyd, 37, of Maine.
The complaint, which was unsealed Saturday, states that on June 22, the four men participated in damaging the statue alongside other protesters, while also being captured on video ‘attempting to pry the statue off its base with a wooden board and trying to pull the statue down with the aid of a yellow strap.’
It also claims there is video evidence showing ‘Lloyd as he breaks off and destroys the wheels of cannons located at the base of the statue.’
The document states: ‘Lloyd is then captured on video pulling on ropes in an effort to topple the statue and handing a hammer to an unidentified individual involved in the incident.’
‘This office remains steadfast in its commitment to protect the sacred First Amendment right of individuals to peacefully protest, but these charges should serve as a warning to those who choose to desecrate the statues and monuments that adorn our nation’s capital,’ said Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin.
The bronze statue has stood in Lafayette park since 1853.
Large crowds chanted outside the White House last month to demand justice for George Floyd
The president last month has took aim at Black Lives Matter protesters who have vandalized statues, threatening them with 10 years in prison
Jackson, a populist who admirers say reformed Washington DC, is a hero of Trump’s, and the president chose his portrait to hang in the Oval Office when he moved in.
Jackson’s detractors point out that he was a slave owner who championed the ‘Trail of Tears’ policy of forcing Native Americans west of the Mississippi.
The movement to topple or deface monuments of Confederate war heroes and U.S. presidents with poor civil rights records has angered the president.
Last week, Trump signed an executive order aimed at protecting monuments and statues, making the issue a priority for the Justice Department.
‘I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials and Statues – and combating recent Criminal Violence,’ Trump announced on Twitter.
Last month Trump showed off an Executive Order he signed to protect monuments and statues
‘Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country.’
Trump has long derided efforts to bring down monuments, often calling them ‘foolish.’
‘I think many of the people that are knocking down the statues don’t even have any idea what the statue is, what it means, who it is when they knocked down,’ he said during an interview.
‘Now they are looking at Jesus Christ, they are looking at George Washington, they’re looking at Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson.
‘Not going to happen, not going to happen while I’m here.’