Tuesday, June 30, 2020

President Trump: Crackdown 'completely stopped' monument vandalism

President Trump said Sunday that his administration’s crackdown has “completely stopped” vandalism of monuments and statues around the nation, as he highlights a law-and-order agenda that has become central to his reelection campaign in the wake of protests against racial injustice.
After a weekend of posting FBI “wanted” posters online of suspects who allegedly damaged a statue of Andrew Jackson near the White House, the president said the threat of lengthy prison terms is among the actions getting the attention of lawbreakers.
“Since imposing a very powerful 10 year prison sentence on those that Vandalize Monuments, Statues etc., with many people being arrested all over our Country, the Vandalism has completely stopped. Thank you!” Mr. Trump tweeted.
Four men have been charged with damaging and trying to tear down the Andrew Jackson statue in Lafayette Square adjacent to the White House, federal prosecutors announced. One of the suspects, Connor Matthew Judd, has already been arrested and appeared in court Saturday.
The other three were at large as of the announcement. They are identified as Lee Michael Cantrell, 47, of Virginia; Ryan Lane, 37, of Maryland, and Graham Lloyd, 37, from Maine.
Prosecutors said all four were caught on video using straps to try to pull down the statue, which stands on federal land. The statue was targeted earlier this week as an outgrowth of the Black Lives Matter protests that have roiled cities across the country over the last month.
“This office remains steadfast in its commitment to protect the sacred First Amendment right of individuals to peacefully protest, but these charges should serve as a warning to those who choose to desecrate the statues and monuments that adorn our nation’s capital: your violent behavior and criminal conduct will not be tolerated,” said Michael R. Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.
Attorney General William Barr had said the charges would be coming, warning that agents were scouring video of the park to see who could be identified among the protesters.
Mr. Barr also has ordered the formation of a task force to take on the “anti-government extremists” that he says disrupted peaceful protests and sowed chaos and destruction.
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