President Donald Trump warned protesters they face 10 years in prison after targeting a statue of Andrew Jackson, while the threat could extend to those who have damaged other memorials amid recent demonstrations.
…In later tweets he wrote: “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 effective immediately, but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused. There will be no exceptions!”
Trump’s message following the targeting of Jackson’s statue raises the question of potential action being taken against other demonstrators under the Veterans’ Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act of 2003.
The act establishes criminal penalties for the targeting of veterans’ memorials across the nation.
While the president’s message referred to the action towards the statue, it covers anything deemed to be a monument which commemorates someone’s service and is on public property.
It states that someone “who willfully injures or destroys, or attempts to injure or destroy, any structure, plaque, statue, or other monument on public property commemorating the service of any person or persons in the armed forces of the United States” may be fined or imprisoned for up to 10 years, or both.
Trump’s statement comes after Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) called for the act to be used against those who have “defaced and torn down statues, memorials, and monuments around our country.”
He described those behind the incidents as “violent mobs.”