Trump issues executive order targeting vandalism against monuments

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Michael D. Shear,

The New York Times Company

June 27, 2020 | 7:10 AM

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump issued an govt order Friday that instructed federal legislation enforcement authorities to prosecute individuals who harm federal monuments or statues and that threatened to withhold funding from native governments that fail to guard their very own statues from vandals.

The order, which Trump introduced on Twitter, comes as he seeks to grab on a cultural divide within the United States throughout his reelection marketing campaign, suggesting that Democrats are waging an assault on the nation’s historical past.

“Anarchists and left-wing extremists have sought to advance a fringe ideology that paints the United States of America as fundamentally unjust,” Trump writes within the order, which is titled, “Protecting American Monuments, Memorials and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Violence.”

The order provides: “Key targets in the violent extremists’ campaign against our country are public monuments, memorials and statues.”

It is a response to the toppling of statues and monuments in current weeks after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis prompted protests for police reform and social justice.

But the order gives little in the way in which of latest authority. It directs federal legislation enforcement officers to prosecute “to the fullest extent permitted” individuals who violate current federal legal guidelines that already make it against the law to wreck or destroy a monument or statue.

The order additionally urges prosecution of anybody who’s caught “attacking, removing or defacing depictions of Jesus or other religious figures or religious artwork.”

Protesters throughout the nation have knocked down monuments, principally of Confederate generals. In Raleigh, North Carolina, the statues of two Confederate troopers had been torn down. And in San Francisco, a crowd toppled a bust of Ulysses S. Grant, although he was a Union basic who beat the Confederate Army. (Protesters famous that he was additionally a slave proprietor.)

In Washington, protesters knocked over a statue of Albert Pike, the one Confederate basic honored within the metropolis, they usually tried — unsuccessfully — to take down a statue close to the White House of Andrew Jackson, the nation’s seventh president.

In the order, Trump accuses native governments, like Washington’s, of getting “surrendered to mob rule, imperiling community safety, allowing for the wholesale violation of our laws, and privileging the violent impulses of the mob over the rights of law-abiding citizens.”

In an try to punish these governments that the president claims have seemed the opposite method throughout monument destruction, the order directs officers to think about holding again funding and grants.

But it’s unclear whether or not the Trump administration might really observe via on that menace. The president made an identical menace to withhold funds from so-called sanctuary cities, which restrict their cooperation with federal immigration brokers. This yr, an appeals courtroom blocked it.