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Donald Trump Signs ‘tough’ Executive Order To Protect Monuments

Donald Trump

Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is the 45th and current president of the United States. Before entering politics, he was a businessman and television personality. Trump entered the 2016 presidential race as a Republican and defeated 16 other candidates in the primaries. His political positions have been described as populist, protectionist, and nationalist. He was elected in a surprise victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, although he lost the popular vote.He became the oldest first-term U.S. president.

George Floyd’s Death

George Perry Floyd (aged 46) was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and raised in the Third Ward of Houston, Texas. In 2014, he moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Derek Michael Chauvin (age 44) had been a police officer in the Minneapolis Police Department since 2001. Chauvin and Floyd sometimes worked overlapping shifts as security guards for a local nightclub, but the club’s former owner was unsure of the extent to which they knew each other. 

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost eight minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down, begging for his life and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe”. Officers J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane further restrained Floyd, while officer Tou Thao prevented bystanders from intervening. During the final three minutes, Floyd was motionless and had no pulse while Chauvin ignored onlookers’ pleas to remove his knee, which he did not do until medics told him to.

The following day, after videos made by witnesses and security cameras became public, all four officers were fired. Two autopsies found Floyd’s death to be a homicide. Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, to which was later added second-degree murder; the three other officers were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Chauvin’s wife filed for divorce on May 28.

Floyd’s death triggered demonstrations and protests in over 2,000 U.S. cities and around the world against police brutality, police racism, and lack of police accountability. In early June, the Minneapolis City Council took action to ban chokeholds and require police officers to intervene against the use of excessive force by other officers, and voted an intent to restructure the police department as a “new community-based system of public safety”. The Minneapolis Police Chief canceled contract negotiations with the police union and announced plans to bring in outside experts to examine how the union contract can be restructured to provide transparency and “flexibility for true reform”.

Trump’s decision over monuments

Protesters on Monday(June 22nd, 2020) night attempted to drag the Jackson statue down with ropes and chains. Police repelled the protesters and sealed off Lafayette Park, which had been reopened to the public for more than a week after protests against the death of George Floyd at police hands in Minnesota.

On Tuesday, police cleared out the entire area around the corner of 16th and H streets and pushed demonstrators away from the intersection, which had recently been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza by the city.

Statistics released by the Metropolitan Police Department show that nine people have arrested Tuesday night and a total of 12 arrested between Monday and Wednesday. There were no protest-related arrests Thursday, according to the MPD data.

Demonstrators have grown increasingly emboldened about targeting statues deemed offensive or inappropriate.

On June 19, or Juneteenth, the day marking the end of slavery in the United States, cheering crowds pulled down a statue of Confederate Gen. Albert Pike. The statue stood on federal land and had withstood previous attempts by the Washington DC government to remove it.

According to participants, police officers were on the scene but did not attempt to interfere.

The targeting of the statues has become a rallying cry for Trump and other conservatives. Immediately after the Pike statue was toppled and set ablaze, Trump called the incident a “disgrace to our Country!” on Twitter.

Trump has signed an executive order to protect monuments, memorials, and statues facing new scrutiny amid fresh debate over the nation’s racist beginnings.

Trump had promised to take action earlier this week after police thwarted an attempt by protesters to pull down a statue of Andrew Jackson in a park across from the White House.

The order on Friday calls on the attorney general to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law any person or group that destroys or vandalizes a monument, memorial, or statue. Federal law authorizes a penalty of up to 10 years in prison for the “willful injury” of federal property.

Earlier in the day, the president used Twitter to call for the arrest of protesters involved with the attempt to bring down the Jackson statue from Lafayette Park.

He retweeted an FBI wanted poster showing pictures of 15 protesters who are wanted for “vandalization of federal property”.

The order also calls for maximum prosecution for anyone who incites violence and illegal activity, and it threatens state and local law enforcement agencies that fail to protect monuments with the loss of federal funding.

Trump announced earlier on Friday on Twitter that he had signed the order and called it “strong”.

Trump wrote, “MANY people in custody, with many others being sought for Vandalization of Federal Property in Lafayette Park. 10-year prison sentences!”

He also said on Twitter that he had scrapped plans to spend the weekend at his central New Jersey home to stay in Washington “to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced”.

“These arsonists, anarchists, looters, and agitators have been largely stopped,” Trump tweeted. “I am doing what is necessary to keep our communities safe and these people will be brought to justice!”

On Tuesday he tweeted, “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.”

The order calls on the attorney general to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law any person or group that destroys or vandalizes a monument, memorial, or statue.