Trump says anyone who breaks a statue will be jailed for ten years: 'There will be no exception'
'This action is taken immediately, but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused'
Donald Trump has sent a warning to all anti-racism protesters in the US. The president has said that anyone who vandalizes public statues will face up to 10 years in jail. Taking to Twitter on Tuesday, June 23, Trump said: “I have authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the U.S. with up to 10 years in prison, per the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act, or such other laws that may be pertinent."
"This action is taken immediately, but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused. There will be no exceptions!” he added.
The warning from the president comes as anti-racism protesters continue to destroy statues of Confederate-era figures and slave owners across the US amid the nationwide demonstrations following the death of Geroge Floyd. The 46-year-old, an unarmed African-American, died in police custody on May 25 after a former Minneapolis officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His tragic death has sparked protests against racism and police brutality with people taking to the streets despite the coronavirus pandemic. Several celebrities including Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Tiger Woods have also spoken against the wrong.
Amid the protests, several controversial monuments have also been destroyed or vandalized. On Monday, June 22, Trump said that he was against the plans to remove former President Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt’s statue from outside New York City’s American Museum of Natural History. Roosevelt was the 26th president of the US from 1901 to 1909. His controversial statue shows him on a horse with a Native American man and an African man by his side. The decision to remove the monument came after management of the museum believed that the statue represented colonialism and racial discrimination.
In a press release, the museum said: “The statue was meant to celebrate Theodore Roosevelt as a devoted naturalist and author of works on natural history. At the same time, the statue itself communicates a racial hierarchy that the museum and members of the public have long found disturbing.”
“To understand the statue, we must recognize our country's enduring legacy of racial discrimination — as well as Roosevelt's troubling views on race. We must also acknowledge the museum's own imperfect history. Such an effort does not excuse the past but it can create a foundation for honest, respectful, open dialogue,” the statement added.
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio also agreed with the decision as his office said in a statement to CNN: “The American Museum of Natural History has asked to remove the Theodore Roosevelt statue because it explicitly depicts Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior. The city supports the museum's request. It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue."
Recently, trustees at Monmouth University also voted to pull out the name of former President Woodrow Wilson from the campus's Great Hall. Patrick Leahy, University president, said in a statement to students on Juneteenth, “Wilson was a controversial politician, who never actually set foot in the current building. Removing his name, and incorporating these earlier names, connects the centerpiece of our campus more accurately to our historical roots and eliminates a symbolic barrier to the important work of creating a truly welcoming and inclusive space in the Great Hall." The university has now reportedly planned to honor its lead designer Julian Abele, one of the first professionally trained African-American architects.