Trump orders statues be protected from ‘mob rule’

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Reuters

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order calling for protesters who target monuments to be imprisoned.

The measure says anybody who damages a public statue must be prosecuted to the “fullest extent of the law”.

Mr Trump’s order also demands withholding federal funds from local jurisdictions and police departments that fail to stop such “mob rule”.

A quantity of US statues have been pulled down considering that the police killing of an unarmed black man, George Floyd.

The president issued the order on Friday evening hours after that he abruptly cancelled a planned day at his greens in Bedminster, New Jersey, writing on Twitter he would stay static in Washington DC to “make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced”.

The measure says: “Many of the rioters, arsonists, and left-wing extremists who have carried out and supported these acts have explicitly identified themselves with ideologies – such as Marxism – that call for the destruction of the United States system of government.”

It accuses the protesters of “a deep ignorance of our history”.

The order cites the recent targeting of a San Francisco bust to Ulysses S Grant, who owned a slave before that he became Union Army commander and defeated the slave-owning Confederacy throughout the Civil War, a statue in Madison, Wisconsin, of an abolitionist immigrant who fought for the Union, and a Boston memorial commemorating an African-American regiment that fought in exactly the same conflict.

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“Individuals and organizations have the right to peacefully advocate for either the removal or the construction of any monument,” the executive order says. 

“But no individual or group has the right to damage, deface, or remove any monument by use of force.”

It cites existing laws providing for 10 years in prison for anyone who damages federal property.

The order warns local jurisdictions that don’t protect such monuments could face having their federal funding associated with public spaces withheld.

Police departments which have failed to guard statues from damage or vandalism may possibly also lose such funds, the order warns.

It also states that anyone who “damages, defaces, or destroys religious property, including by attacking, removing, or defacing depictions of Jesus or other religious figures or religious art work” should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of what the law states.

The measure appears to reference a recent Twitter post by prominent social justice activist Shaun King who wrote that “statues of the white European they claim is Jesus should also come down”.

The tweet added: “They are a form of white supremacy.”

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Getty Images

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A statue of Christopher Columbus was toppled by protesters in St Paul, Minnesota

Monuments linked to the Confederacy have been particularly targeted in america amid the nationwide protests ignited by the death of Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, monthly ago.

President Trump has defended Confederate symbols as an element of American heritage.

Statues of Christopher Columbus, the 15th Century explorer whose voyages on behalf of Spain opened the way in which for the European colonisation of the Americas, are also targeted as perceived symbols of imperialism.

Some state and local leaders have themselves taken action to eliminate Confederate symbols.

Earlier this month, Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam announced that a statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee would be taken down from the state capital in Richmond.

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