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Trump threatens arrest, prison for activists who target statues

By
Don Jacobson
The Andrew Jackson statue is seen vandalized Tuesday after protesters attempted to tear it down overnight in Lafayette Park near the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
The Andrew Jackson statue is seen vandalized Tuesday after protesters attempted to tear it down overnight in Lafayette Park near the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

June 23 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump said Tuesday he's "authorized" police to arrest and prosecute anyone who vandalizes statues or monuments on federal property, some of which have recently become targets for protesters opposed to historical figures with ties to racism.

The president didn't specify what action he took to empower police to make arrests, but threatened arrest and prison for protesters like those who attempted to topple a monument to former President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park near the White House on Monday.

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"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," Trump tweeted, and cited the Veteran's Memorial Preservation Act "or such other laws that may be pertinent."

"This action is taken effective immediately, but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused," he added. "There will be no exceptions!"

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Trump later told reporters at the White House he will issue an executive order on the issue "very shortly."

"We have a very specific monuments act, and we are looking at long-term jail sentences for these vandals and these hoodlums and these anarchists and agitators," he added. "They are not taking down our monuments. I just want to make that clear."

Police intervened on Monday before the statue of Jackson was damaged.

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"We were working very closely with the White House Secret Service and some of our executives," Trump said. "They stopped it cold."

A week earlier, the Jackson statue had been vandalized with graffiti.

Demonstrators nationwide have focused on a number of monuments and symbols with histories of race. Some of the statues have been removed by local officials while others were taken down by protesters.

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