In various states, there has been renewed scrutiny regarding Confederate and other controversial monuments in light of the anti-racism protests going on in the country. According to Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, there's one major landmark with its own controversial history that won't be going anywhere anytime soon, as PEOPLE noted. On Tuesday, Noem took to Twitter to vocalize her support for Mount Rushmore.
While there hasn't been a demand for the removal of Mount Rushmore, the monument has become a topic of discussion on Twitter in light of the removal of several other prominent statues and monuments. Mount Rushmore, which is in South Dakota, depicts presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. As PEOPLE noted, Washington and Jefferson were slave owners. Additionally, Roosevelt also has a controversial past when it came to people of color. But, on Tuesday, Noem responded to conservative pundit Ben Shapiro, who wrote that the "woke" members of the population would inevitably demand that Mount Rushmore be blown up. In response to his tweet, the governor that the monument will stay up and that it is not going anywhere "on my watch."
Not on my watch. https://t.co/U6gGap5Ib6— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) June 23, 2020
Noem's tweet, and this discussion surrounding Mount Rushmore, comes as President Donald Trump has vocalized his disapproval of the removal of various statues and monuments across the country. On Tuesday, Trump wrote that he has authorized the federal government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys these controversial monuments. He shared that the consequence of doing so would be up to 10 years in prison. The president also cited the Veteran's Preservation Act ("or other such laws") as the act that these individuals would be violating.
In a subsequent tweet, Trump wrote, "This action is taken effective immediately, but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused. There will be no exceptions!" The president's tweets came amidst increased scrutiny into these controversial monuments. In fact, many of those very monuments have either been torn down or are due to be taken down sometime in the future. In mid-June, it was reported that several statues of Christopher Columbus, who helped start European colonization in the Americas and subsequently contributed to the oppression of indigenous people, were either toppled or defaced. A statue of the explorer and colonizer was beheaded in Boston while another in Virginia was torn down and tossed into a lake.