On Saturday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced that four people were charged with attempting to destroy the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square.
Lee Michael Cantrell, 47, of Virginia allegedly attempted to pry the statue off its base with a wooden board and to pull it down with a yellow strap.
Connor Matthew Judd, 20, of Washington, D.C allegedly attempted to pull down the statue.
Ryan Lane, 37, of Maryland, allegedly attached a rope to the statue and attempted to pull it down.
Graham, Lloyd, 37, of Maine allegedly attempted to pull the statue down with ropes and broke off and destroyed the wheels of cannons at the base of the statue.
Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin said: “The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia will not stand idly by and allow our national monuments to be vandalized and destroyed. 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.”
And Acting Chief of the U.S. Park Police Gregory T. Monahan said: “Members of the United States Park Police are working tirelessly to provide quality law enforcement, safeguard lives, protect our national treasures and symbols of democracy, and preserve the natural and cultural resources entrusted to its service. We are committed to ensuring that citizens are able to freely exercise their constitutional rights in a safe and peaceful manner. The deplorable acts of violence and destruction of property are unacceptable and will continue to be pursued through ongoing collaborative investigations and enforcement efforts.”
Right on! I am heartened that something is being done to punish these disgusting attacks on statues that have been occurring with disturbing frequency. Looking at pictures of mobs trying to destroy the Andrew Jackson statue – such as the one accompanying this article or this article – makes me sick. The statue is magnificent and beautiful. How could someone look at it and want to tear it down? How could someone prefer a world without this statue and other patriotic works of art? The destructive actions of these four individuals, as well as those of countless others over the past few weeks, are morally wrong and incomprehensible. Anyone who intentionally damages a statue in any way, or attempts to damage a statue, or cheers, supports, or encourages the damaging of a statue, deserves to be severely punished.
Now that President Trump has signed an executive order calling for vandalism against statues to be punished to the fullest extent of the law, I hope that more people will be arrested on similar charges for the barbaric acts that have taken place over the past few weeks. Trump’s executive order, issued on Friday, instructs the Department of Justice to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of acts of destruction against statues, memorials, monuments, government property, and religious artwork. The Veterans’ Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act of 2003 authorizes sentences of 10 years in prison for these types of vandalism.
In the order, Trump also announced his intent “to withhold Federal support from State and local law enforcement agencies that have failed to protect public monuments, memorials, and statues from destruction or vandalism. Unwillingness to enforce State and local laws in the face of attacks on our history, whether because of sympathy for the extremists behind this violence or some other improper reason, casts doubt on the management of these law enforcement agencies. These law enforcement agencies are not appropriate candidates for limited Federal funds that support State and local police.”
This is a great idea that will hopefully result in more police departments doing their jobs instead of allowing statues to be destroyed.