Andrew Jackson statue vandalized: Cops use banned pepper spray on protesters, angry Internet calls out DC Mayor
Protesters gathered at Lafayette Square on June 22 evening outside the White House and attempted to bring down a statue of Andrew Jackson that was commissioned in 1847. The protesters broke through the fence outside the Andrew Jackson statue just before 8 pm. However, DC police reinforcements were soon sent to block the protesters.
A wave of nationwide demonstrations calling for racial justice has swept the United States since the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25. Former police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd for nearly 9 minutes as the latter pleaded that he could not breathe.
The protesters threw ropes around the Andrew Jackson statue and climbed on top of it to try and topple the bronze statue. The statue depicts Jackson in military uniform riding a horse that is reared on its hind legs. Police soon responded to the scene and used a bicycle barricade to quickly clear the crowd away from the statue towards the Black Lives Matter Plaza. The statue remained unremoved and mounted on its pedestal. According to WUSA9, police used pepper spray on the crowd to push the protesters out of Lafayette Square. Protesters were seen calling for medics as many members of the crowd were rubbing their eyes after police confronted them. The publication also reported that at least one reporter was carried out of the park by protesters.
The statue was also vandalized when "Slave Owner" was scrawled in red paint across it. Previously, it was vandalized twice in 2015 when the phrase "Black Lives Matter" was spray-painted in the first instance and "Justice for D" in the second instance in a reference to D’Angelo Stallworth, who was shot and killed by officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Many took to social media to question Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser over the use of pepper spray by the police. One user tweeted, "@MayorBowser, there's a bill that's been sitting on your desk for two weeks that bans @DCPoliceDept from using pepper spray. They're using it on peaceful protesters as we speak. If it was a battlefield, this would be a war crime. Will you continue to be complicit? #DefundMPD." Another wrote, "Hey @MayorBowser why is @DCPoliceDept using tear gas and pepper spray on protesters despite being against the emergency measure passed almost two weeks ago?"
A user tweeted, "@MayorBowser your police force is going directly against your council order to cease use of tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets! Stand up as mayor and do something. This is happening rn! @DCPoliceDept is attacking peaceful protesters!!" Another wrote, "It’s like 5 helicopters circling the area, police have barricaded the protesters in nobody can exit. Police are beating the entire f**k out of protesters. Tear gassing the whole crowd, shooting rubber bullets. NONE OF THE OFFICERS HAVE ON BADGES EITHER. @MayorBowser SHAME." Another user said, "@MayorBowser this is unacceptable. The people of DC are watching and ready to hold you accountable. What on earth are you waiting for? #dcprotest #NoJusticeNoPeace."
Serving as the 7th President of the United States, Andrew Jackson was a wealthy, slave-owning planter. In 1830, Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which forcibly relocated most members of the Native American tribes in the South to the Indian Territory. The relocation process dispossessed the Indians and resulted in widespread death and disease. He also opposed the abolitionist movement.