President Trump, on Friday, issued a new executive order to protect public monuments. Under the order, those who illegally remove or vandalize public monuments can face up to ten years in prison.
The Attorney General was directed to collaborate with state officials to prosecute violators to the fullest extent of the law. Additionally, the order provides personnel to protect Federal monuments as requested by Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the Administrator of General Services, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security.
In the order, the president condemned those who forcibly remove the monuments as extremists and anarchists:
The first duty of government is to ensure domestic tranquility and defend the life, property, and rights of its citizens. Over the last 5 weeks, there has been a sustained assault on the life and property of civilians, law enforcement officers, government property, and revered American monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial. 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. Anarchists and left-wing extremists have sought to advance a fringe ideology that paints the United States of America as fundamentally unjust and have sought to impose that ideology on Americans through violence and mob intimidation. They have led riots in the streets, burned police vehicles, killed and assaulted government officers as well as business owners defending their property, and even seized an area within one city where law and order gave way to anarchy. During the unrest, innocent citizens also have been harmed and killed.
These forcible removals and vandalizations of public monuments follow a nation-wide trend towards removing controversial monuments throughout the country. However, some of these forcible removals and vandalizations have also targeted statutes dedicated to Union soldiers during the Civil War, abolitionists, military officers, and religious figures. This dichotomy within the removals has manifested significant controversy and increased tensions across the political spectrum.