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Trump threatens long-term jail sentences for protesters who try to take down Andrew Jackson statue near White House

President again threatens protesters as he ramps up 'law-and-order' re-election campaign

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Tuesday 23 June 2020 16:13 BST
The Lincoln Project release advert mocking Trump's ramp walk

Calling them "vandals" and "protesters" and "hoodlums," Donald Trump promised "long-term ... jail sentences" for protesters who tried to topple a statue of Andrew Jackson near the White House on Monday evening.

The self-described "law-and-order president" hailed federal law enforcement officers who arrived on the scene in Lafayette Park of chains tied to the horse-riding Jackson and, in his words, "stopped them cold."

"We are looking at long-term jail sentences for these vandals and these hoodlums and these anarchists and agitators," Mr Trump said. "Call them whatever you want. Some people don't like that language, but that's what they are. They're bad people. They don't love our country. And they're not taking down our monuments. I just want to make that clear."

The president floated the notion that he would take actions based on the authorities of the Office of the President to somehow clamp down on the protests, which started after the death of George Floyd, a black man, while in custody of white police officers in Minneapolis.

"I will have an executive order very shortly," he said. "And all it's really going to do is reinforce what already there, but in a more uniform way."

He did not offer specifics about that coming order.

The president was referring to protesters in Washington, DC, who attached chains to a statute of Andrew Jackson, a former US president who also was an Army general. His military career was most known for the "Trail of Tears," during which as many as 60,000 Native Americans were forced from their lands.

Known as a populist and tough-talking commander in chief, Mr Jackson is a hero of Mr Trump.

A portrait of the seventh president has hung in the Oval Office during Mr Trump's term.

"Last night we stopped an attack on a great monument, the monument of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park. And I just want to thank law enforcement. They did a great job," the president told reporters. "We were working very closely with the White House Secret Service and some of our executives."

"They did a great job. Numerous people are in jail and going to jail today," he added. "People are already there, but we're looking at long term sentences under the Act – we have a very specific monuments act."

Earlier Tuesday, the president tweeted about the Veterans' Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act of 2003. But that Iraq war-era law, according to a congressional report, was meant to protect military cemeteries and other federal symbols honouring US troopers who have died in combat.

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