President Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that he does not approve of protesters tearing down statues and monuments relating to various controversial figures from the nation's history. In light of the anti-racism protests going on across the country, there has been renewed interest in the many controversial monuments that exist of various historical figures such as Christopher Columbus and Robert E. Lee. Recently, protesters in a park near the White House tried to tear down a statue of President Andrew Jackson, and Trump had plenty to say about that action.
During an appearance at a Students for Trump event in Phoenix, Arizona, the president discussed the situation surrounding the statue of Jackson, the 19th-century president who was responsible for the Trail of Tears, which forced almost 60,000 Native Americans from their land and led to the deaths of many. Trump told the crowd that he deployed the National Guard to prevent protesters from taking down the monument. He told the crowd that by deploying the National Guard and putting an end to the "violence," they were able to save the "incredible statue" of Jackson. Trump continued to bash the protesters by saying, "A lot of spoiled people in that group, you know. A lot of spoiled -- a lot of spoiled, rich people." At one point, he even echoed the crowd's "lock them up" call regarding the matter.
Trump on protesters who tried to tear down a statue of Andrew Jackson near the White House: "A lot of spoiled people in that group, you know. A lot of spoiled -- a lot of spoiled, rich people." pic.twitter.com/2WnLvb1xih— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 23, 2020
Trump has been especially vocal about his disapproval of removing statues of these controversial figures. On Tuesday, the president wrote on Twitter that he had authorized federal arrests for anyone who "vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property" in the United States. He shared that the consequence of doing such an action could result in up to 10 years in prison. Trump cited the Veteran's Memorial Preservation Act ("or such other laws") as the law that these individuals would be violating.
In a follow-up tweet, Trump wrote that this action was being implemented "effective immediately." He also claimed that it could be used "retroactively" for those who have vandalized or destroyed any of these controversial monuments in recent weeks. The president ended his statement by writing that there would be no exceptions in this matter.