June 27 (UPI) — President Donald Trump on Friday said he signed an executive order protecting U.S. monuments like those toppled in recent weeks for having connections to racism or slavery.
Trump hinted at such an order earlier in the week.
“I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues — and combatting recent Criminal Violence. Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country!” he tweeted.
On Tuesday, he said he authorized police to arrest and prosecute anyone who vandalizes statues or monuments on federal property. He tweeted then that prison terms for such offenses would be up to 10 years.
A statement from the office of White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the order authorizes the federal government to withhold “certain federal support” from state and local governments that fail to protect public monuments from vandalism.
“President Trump will never allow violence to control our streets, rewrite our history or harm the American way of life,” her statement said.
Trump’s order comes as protesters across the nation have pulled down statues, particularly those honoring Confederate leaders because of their support for slavery.
On Monday, demonstrators attempted to topple a statue of President Andrew Jackson — who owned slaves and forcibly removed Native Americans from their lands — in Lafayette Park near the White House.
In some places, local leaders have approved the official removal of such statues, including a Confederate monument in Denton, Texas.