President Donald Trump on Friday, June 26, signed the Executive Order on Protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Violence in light of the emerging violence and looting after the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, the White House announced.
The new order will ensure that any person or group that destroys or vandalizes a monument, memorial, or statue is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The order also directs that those who incite violence and illegal activity are also prosecuted.
State and local law enforcement agencies that fail to protect monuments, memorials, and statues will be subject to the withholding of federal support the order states.
In Section 3: Enforcing Laws Prohibiting the Desecration of Public Monuments, the Vandalism of Government Property, and Recent Acts of Violence: The attorney general will take all appropriate action against individuals and organizations found to have participated in unlawful acts—related to rioting and the destruction of federal property.
The federal government will also provide assistance for protecting federal monuments, memorials, statues, and property.
According to the executive order:
Over the last 5 weeks, many of the alleged rioters, arsonists, and left-wing extremists have carried out and supported a sustained assault on the life and property of civilians, law enforcement officers, government property, and revered American monuments. They have explicitly identified themselves with ideologies—such as Marxism—that call for the destruction of the United States system of government.
Anarchists and left-wing extremists have sought to advance a fringe ideology that paints the United States as fundamentally unjust and have sought to impose that ideology on Americans through violence and mob intimidation. They have led riots in the streets, burned police vehicles, killed and assaulted government officers.
These criminal acts are frequently planned and supported by agitators who have traveled across state lines to promote their own violent agenda. These radicals shamelessly attack the legitimacy of our institutions and the very rule of law itself.
“Individuals and organizations have the right to peacefully advocate for either the removal or the construction of any monument. But no individual or group has the right to damage, deface, or remove any monument by use of force,” the order writes.
With the new order, President Trump said his administration “will not allow violent mobs incited by a radical fringe to become the arbiters of the aspects of our history that can be celebrated in public spaces.”
“State and local public officials’ abdication of their law enforcement responsibilities in deference to this violent assault must end,” he added.
In a tweet on Friday, President Trump also pledged “long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country!”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2020
The executive order cited a U.S. law that authorizes a penalty of a maximum of 10 years in prison for the willful injury of federal property.