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President Donald Trump announced late Friday that his administration would be enforcing federal provisions demanding that cities and states protect monuments paid for by the federal government and threatening those who pull down monuments with “long prison time.”
Trump tweeted about the executive order on Saturday, calling it a “strong” response to efforts, across the country, to pull down monuments deemed “racist” or “controversial.”
“I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues – and combatting recent Criminal Violence. Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country!” Trump tweeted.
As the Daily Wire reported on Sunday, Trump also tweeted out a list of fifteen individuals wanted for attempting to pull down the monument of President Andrew Jackson that stands in Lafayette Square Park near the White House.
Desecrating federal monuments is already illegal, but the executive order adds some wrinkles to existing law, including providing cities and states with additional funding and support to protect targeted monuments, and threatening those municipalities that fail to keep protesters from felling statues with a loss of federal funding.
“The new order enforces laws prohibiting the desecration of public monuments, the vandalism of government property, and recent acts of violence, withholds federal support tied to public spaces from state and local governments that have failed to protect public monuments, and withdraws federal grants for jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies that fail to stop their desecration,” Fox News reported Saturday.
Attorney General Bill Barr has also authorized a special Department of Justice task force to “share information with local and state law enforcement and  provide training on identifying anti-government extremists, according to an internal Justice Department memo,” per Fox News.
Several major cities have had problems with protesters targeting, tagging, defacing, and even toppling monuments. Although the craze began with demonstrations targeting monuments to the Confederacy, many of them erected well after the Civil War ended, the movement has since experienced a significant mission creep and is now targeting monuments to past presidents, Catholic missionaries, and even abolitionist figures.
In a particularly heated confrontation Saturday, protesters tried to topple a statue of Abraham Lincoln, paid for by former slaves, and celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation. The demonstrators were eventually dispersed.
Several individuals have been arrested in connection with efforts to topple monuments, including six people who desecrated a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, according to CNN. On Sunday, Trump also noted that “many” people are now in custody for defacing federal monuments, though he did not specify where.
“MANY people in custody, with many others being sought for Vandalization of Federal Property in Lafayette Park. 10 year prison sentences!” he said, ahead of a list of 15 “wanted” individuals.
“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!”