June 26 (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, who hinted at such an order earlier in the week, didn’t offer details.
“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.
His 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.