Trump Threatens to Jail People for Up to 10 Years for Vandalizing Statues

Donald Trump vowed to issue an executive order that will punish anyone who harms an American monument or statue with up to 10 years in prison.

Protesters attempt to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square.

Image via Getty/Drew Angerer

Protesters attempt to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square.

Donald Trump took to his usual bully pulpit of Twitter on Tuesday, threatening anyone who tries vandalizes or destroys a monument or statue with up to 10 years in prison.

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, per the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act, or such other laws that may be pertinent.....

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2020

People were quick to point out the hypocrisy in Trump placing more of an importance on the well-being of a statue than American lives. 

trump cares more about jailing the people who pulled down a statue of racist Andrew Jackson than jailing the murderers of Breonna Taylor

— BrooklynDad_Defiant!☮️ (@mmpadellan) June 23, 2020

Trump doesn’t care if we all die from Covid, in fact, he is promoting it.
But if you harm a dead racist statue, you’re going to prison.

— Woman In The Moon (@SassyKadiK) June 23, 2020

WATCH: Protesters tried to topple the Andrew Jackson statue near the White House Monday. They were eventually dispersed by police, who used pepper spray to clear out the area

— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 23, 2020

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

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2020

The threat came as a direct response to protesters trying to pull down a statue of Andrew Jackson near the White House Monday night. Their efforts were interrupted by police who used pepper spray to force the crowd out of Lafayette Square. 

CBS News notes Trump would be invoking the Veterans' Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act of 2003, which dictates that anyone who "willfully injures or destroys, or attempts to injure or destroy ...veterans' memorials" will be subjected to criminal penalties. This law applies to "any structure, plaque, statue or other monument on public property commemorating the service of any person or persons in the armed forces of the United States."

Trump's actions come as statues commemorating Confederate symbols continue to be taken down across the country. If Trump is adamant about jailing anyone who vandalizes a statue, especially retroactively, then there should be no issue punishing this white man who spray-painted "white lives matter" on the base of the statue of Black tennis legend Arthur Ashe in Richmond, Virginia last week. 

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