Trump signs executive order against destroying historical statues, monuments

Christopher Columbus statue damaged in downtown Miami. (Miami Police Department)

MIAMI, Fla. – President Donald Trump used Twitter on Friday to call for the arrest of protesters involved in this week’s attempt to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson from a park directly in front of the White House in the nation’s capital.

On Friday, he signed an executive order to protect monuments, memorials and statues.

A press release from the White House, stated that Trump was taking action to defend the shared history of the United States

The Executive Order ensures that any person or group that destroys or vandalizes a monument, memorial, or statue is prosecuted to the fullest extent, according to the release. A penalty of up to 10 years in prison could be imposed for anyone who willfully vandalizes federal property.

Trump said he would also allow the withholding of federal support to any state and local law enforcement agency that failed to protect monuments, memorials and statutes.

The executive order also puts into place federal personnel to assist with the protection of monuments memorials, statues and property.

The release listed some of the examples of historical sites, monuments and statues that the President said were destroyed or defaced.

  • In Portland, mobs tore down statues of our Founding Fathers--George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
  • In San Francisco, rioters tore down a statue honoring Ulysses S. Grant.
  • There are even calls to remove statues of Abraham Lincoln in Boston and Washington, D.C.
  • A statue of Hans Christian Heg, who died fighting for the Union Army during the civil war, was torn down in Wisconsin.
  • These monuments memorialize the history we all share as Americans, and they deserve to be defended for future generations.

[See the Executive Order on Protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Violence]

Trump said on Twitter that he had scrapped plans to spend the weekend at his central New Jersey home to stay in Washington “to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced.”

“These arsonists, anarchists, looters, and agitators have been largely stopped,” Trump tweeted. “I am doing what is necessary to keep our communities safe — and these people will be brought to Justice!”

Protesters on Monday night in Washington, D.C., attempted to drag the Andrew Jackson statute with ropes and chains. Police repelled the protesters and sealed off Lafayette Park, which had been reopened to the public for more than a week after protests against the death of George Floyd at police hands in Minnesota. On Tuesday, police cleared out the entire area around the corner of 16th and H streets — and pushed demonstrators away from the intersection, which had recently been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza by the city.

Miami Statues Defaced

In early June, seven people were arrested after two statues were vandalized in downtown Miami during a protest.

The damaged Christopher Columbus and Juan Ponce De Leon statues are located outside Bayside Marketplace.

According to Miami police, a group of protesters were in the area of Biscayne Boulevard and Fourth Street Wednesday when authorities saw several people spray painting the statues.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., condemned the incident on Twitter

Letter to Governor of Illinois and Mayor of Chicago

On Friday, Trump also wrote a letter to Governor J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot calling upon them to take action on “the devastating violence . . . in this great American city.

About the Authors:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local