Statues to Confederate generals and politicians, as well as other historical figures associated with racist policies, are being taken down across the United States. In some cities, the statues are being taken down by local authorities, but in others, protesters are tearing them down themselves.
Unsurprisingly, the practice hasn't proved particularly popular on the political right. One of those who has strongly voiced his opinion on the matter is Donald Trump Jr, the son of President Donald Trump.
On Tuesday, Trump Jr wrote: "Criminals who vandalize & destroy public property, including monuments, should be immediately arrested & prosecuted. And cities/states that refuse to do so should lose their federal funding. The rule of law matters!"
Couldn't agree with @GOPLeader more.— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 23, 2020
Criminals who vandalize & destroy public property, including monuments, should be immediately arrested & prosecuted.
And cities/states that refuse to do so, should lose their federal funding. The rule of law matters!https://t.co/NpliUpYH83
But it's another suggestion that has caused the most outrage. Yesterday, Trump Jr. suggested that any statues that are torn down should be replaced with monuments to his father.
"Want to save our monuments?" the president's son wrote. "Let’s get a movement going to replace any statue torn down during these riots with a new and more sturdy statue of @realDonaldTrump. The nonsense would stop instantly."
The tweet comes as President Donald Trump said he had authorized the government to arrest anyone caught trying to tear down monuments or statues, threatening that they could face up to 10 years in jail. The president said that the order would apply "retroactively" to those who have participated in a statue being toppled.
"I have authorized the federal government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such federal property in the US with up to 10 years in prison, per the Veteran's Memorial Preservation Act," the president wrote in a tweet.
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
Later on Tuesday, Trump told the media: "I will have an executive order very shortly, and all it's really going to do is reinforce what's already there, but in a more uniform way."
Federal law already states that anyone who vandalizes monuments can be punished with up to 10 years in jail.
The move comes as protesters attempted to topple a statue to Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park, Washington DC, on Tuesday.
"Last night we stopped the attack on Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park," Trump said. "I want to thank the police. Numerous people are in jail or will go to jail. We are looking at long-term sentences. These are anarchists and other things. If the states can't handle it, we are willing and able to help."
Demonstrators scaled the statue and wrapped ropes around it, chanting “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Andrew Jackson’s got to go.”
U.S. Park Police officers moved in with batons, protective shields, and pepper spray before protesters were able to pull the statue down.