Trump reportedly issued executive order authorizing arrest of people removing or destroying statues

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TOPLINE

After President Trump’s publication a pair of tweets on Tuesday morning that ‘authorized’ the arrest of people who have demolished monuments in recent weeks under a 2003 federal law, reports have revealed that Trump will sign an executive order authorizing the arrest of the same group of people, after the demonstrators attempted remove one of his statues prefer Former Commander-in-Chief, Andrew Jackson, of the area outside the White House Monday night.

HIGHLIGHTS

CNN reported that Trump has said he plans to issue the executive order to prevent further deletions or alterations of statues, and it is not clear whether his previous Tuesday tweets contain the substance of what will be included in the executive order.

In his tweets, Trump vowed to arrest “anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other federal property in the United States with up to 10 years in prison, in accordance with the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act.”

Trump added that his authorization is “effective immediately” but can also be applied “retroactively” to cover other monuments toppled in recent weeks.

“There will be no exceptions!” Trump tweeted.

Trump earlier Tuesday tweeted about the attempted removal of the Jackson memorial, calling it “shameful vandalism,” and noting the law as well as the potential jail time for violators.

Before Trump posted his tweets, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Wrote in a Monday letter to Attorney General Bill Barr that federal charges should be laid against people who demolish statues, citing the law as well as the 1968 law Riot law.

Peg news

Civil unrest across the country is entering its fourth week since the Memorial Day murder of George Floyd, a black man, as he was arrested by Minneapolis police, sparking massive protests and reviving the Black Lives Matter movement. Part of the commotion has been the toppling of Confederate monuments by protesters, who see the memorials as a perpetuation of racist beliefs and a reminder of slavery. Supporters of the monuments claim their removal erases history.

LARGE NUMBER

Over 70. That’s the number of Confederate monuments that have been removed across the country since the 2015 church shooting in Charleston, SC, in which a white supremacist opened fire on a black congregation. The count, kept by the Washington post, says about 24 of these monuments – or a third – have fallen since Floyd’s murder.

Key context

The Veterans Memorial Preservation Act states that anyone who “willfully injures or destroys, or attempts to injure or destroy, any structure, plaque, statue or other monument on public property commemorating the service of any person or persons in the armed forces of the States- United. States will be fined under this title, up to 10 years in jail, or both. The text of the law is quite short, at around 130 words. Trump’s tweets did not include that anyone charged under the law should first be convicted or plead guilty before serving jail time; the act also allows fine offenders.

Further reading

Police use pepper spray to wipe out protesters who tried to overthrow Andrew Jackson’s statue (Forbes)

Here are all the Confederate monuments to come (Forbes)

Confederate monuments fall, but hundreds still exist. Here is where. (Washington Post)

Who owns the inheritance? Public symbols of the Confederation (Southern Poverty Law Center)

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