President Trump said on Tuesday morning that he will sign an executive order vowing to prosecute vandals who attempt to destroy statues and monuments owned by the federal government. Speaking to press just before departing for Arizona for the day, the president promised to restore law and order to a nation under the threat of mob violence and destruction.
Trump's promise to sign the order included a promise to punish would-be anarchists and destroyers of historical property with long prison sentences. He referred to crowds of radical political groups that have been destroying monuments and statues for weeks now as "hoodlums," noting they are not peaceful protesters as they are so often framed by the media.
The president began the day on Tuesday promising to push for at least 10 year prison terms for those attempting to destroy or vandalize any federal property, including monuments, memorials, and statues, as per the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act. The executive order takes that action one step further.
.....This action is taken effective immediately, but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused. There will be no exceptions!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2020
Trump's action on Tuesday follows a night of significant unrest in Washington, D.C., as vandals attempted to topple the statue of President Andrew Jackson which stands in Lafayette Square just in front of the White House. The vandals failed, however, after National Park Police intervened. Confrontations between the attempted vandals continued late into the evening. An impromptu camp dubbed "BHAZ (Black House Autonomous Zone)" popped up throughout the day and night.
BREAKING from Lafayette Square in front of The White House pic.twitter.com/jkRBdfUMRu— Richie??McG?? (@RichieMcGinniss) June 23, 2020
The president vowed that there would be no autonomous region of anarchists within the nation's capital, as there has been for weeks now in Seattle, Washington. That area, set up by Black Lives Matter protesters called variously, "CHOP," or "CHAZ," could be coming to end as progressive Mayor Jenny Durkan says law enforcement will be working to disassemble the camp. Despite increasing violence including shootings and looting in that neighborhood, however, Durkan promised that police will simply politely ask the protesters to leave rather than use force.
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2020