On Monday, a leftist mob defaced and tried to topple a statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park directly across from the White House. In the wake of that incident, and radical mobs destroying or defacing historical U.S. monuments nationwide, President Trump announced in a tweet on Tuesday that he has “authorized” the federal government to arrest those who may vandalize or destroy federal property.
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The President said this enforcement would be in accordance with existing laws such as the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act (VMPRA).
Trump added that “This action is taken effective immediately but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused. There will be no exceptions!” As noted by American Military News (AMN), the VMPRA provides up to 10 years imprisonment for violators (RELATED: A Running List of the Statues Vandalized Across America).
The Act specifies destruction toward “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.”
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt also tweeted Monday night, “I just left Lafayette Square where another so-called ‘peaceful protest’ led to destruction tonight. Let me be clear: we will not bow to anarchists. Law and order will prevail, and justice will be served.”
In addition to the VMPRA, AMN notes that another federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 1361 states that those who intentionally destroy government property and incur more than $100 in damages are also subject to up to 10 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.
Meanwhile, The Hill reported yesterday that the Pentagon announced that “400 National Guard members would play a civil disturbance and security role around the District.” Secretary Bernhardt who oversees Park Police, told reporters Tuesday evening he requested the assistance.
According to the Army spokesman, the National Guard troops have not fully deployed yet, stating:
They remain on standby at the DC Armory at this time. They will support U.S. Park Police at key monuments to prevent any defacing or destruction. The National Guard personnel will not be armed, and will serve as a uniformed deterrence and crowd management capacity to maintain closures and restricted areas.
Secretary Bernhardt added, according to The Hill, that he also requested fencing be placed around Lafayette Park as well as at St. John’s Church across the street which was almost torched by rioters on the night of May 31st (RELATED: Anti-Police Protests in D.C. Turn Violent [VIDEO]).
The National Guard units are expected to remain in the DC area until July 8. Thankfully this administration takes the issue of protecting and preserving law and order, and our nation’s monuments and symbols seriously.