The President of the United States, President Trump has issued an executive order to protect monuments, statues and memorials in America. He said the executive order will help combat recent criminal violence in the country. He also proposed a long prison sentence for those for protesters he labelled ‘criminals’.
Trump’s executive order comes as protests across the United States go against systemic racism and police brutality that have resulted in the toppling of monuments to Confederate leaders.
President Donald Trump on Friday ordered the Justice Department to prioritize the prosecution of protesters who damage federal monuments and limit federal funding for local governments that are perceived to not be adequately protecting those monuments.
The executive order also emphasized strict sentencing, with a maximum of 10 years in prison, for those found guilty of such acts, a key plank of Trump’s law and order strategy the president has repeatedly tweeted and talked about in recent weeks.
The order characterizes protesters as actively seeking to undermine the integrity of the United States government referring to them
“Anarchists and left-wing extremists” and comes a day after Trump labeled demonstrators as “terrorists” who will face “retribution.”
Trump previously tweeted that pulling down statues should land protesters 10 years in prison, citing the Veteran Memorials Preservation and Recognition Act. The law caps punishment for defacing military memorials on public lands to 10 years in prison, a fine or both.
“Many of the rioters, arsonists, and left-wing extremists who have carried out and supported these acts have explicitly identified themselves with ideologies such as Marxism that call for the destruction of the United States system of government,” the order said.
Attorney General William Barr announced in a Friday department memo the creation of a task force to counter what he called “violent anti-government extremists”, whom he distinguished from “peaceful demonstration protected by the First Amendment.” Barr characterized those who have targeted public property as domestic terrorists and urged the cooperation of all levels of government in the department’s efforts.
Trump has demanded a more forceful response from states and local governments after protesters flooded the streets of cities across the country following the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minnesota.