Donald Trump signs decree calling for imprisonment of protesters targeting monuments

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Donald Trump signs a decret calling for the imprisonment of demonstrators who target monuments

President Donald Trump has signed a decree calling for the imprisonment of protesters who target monuments.

The measure stipulates that anyone who damages a public statue must be prosecuted "to the fullest extent permitted by law".

Trump's order also calls for withholding federal funds from local jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies that fail to prevent such a "mafia rule."

A number of American statues have been shot down since the police murder of an unarmed black man, George Floyd.

The president made the order Friday night after abruptly canceling a planned trip to his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, writing on Twitter that he would stay in Washington DC to "make sure the LAW AND THE ORDER are applied ”.

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The measure says: "Many rioters, arsonists and leftist extremists who committed and supported these acts have explicitly identified themselves with ideologies - such as Marxism - that call for the destruction of the American system of government. "

He accuses the demonstrators of "a profound ignorance of our history".

The order cites the recent targeting of a bust of San Francisco to Ulysses S Grant, who owned a slave before becoming commander of the Union army and defeated the slave-owning Confederation during the Civil War, a statue in Madison, Wisconsin, of an abolitionist immigrant who fought for the Union, and a Boston memorial commemorating an African American regiment that fought in the same conflict.

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"Individuals and organizations have the right to peacefully plead for the removal or construction of any monument," said the decree.

“But no individual or group has the right to damage, damage or remove a monument by force. "

He cites existing laws providing for up to 10 years in prison for anyone who damages federal property.

The ordinance warns local jurisdictions that failure to protect such monuments could see their federal funding tied to public spaces retained.

Police departments that did not protect the statues from damage or vandalism could also lose these funds, the order warns.

It also states that anyone "damaging, altering or destroying religious property, including by attacking, removing or degrading representations of Jesus or other religious figures or works of religious art" should be prosecuted throughout the measure permitted by law.

The measure appears to refer to a recent Twitter post from prominent social justice activist Shaun King who wrote that "the statues of the white European they claim to be Jesus should also come down."

The tweet added, "They are a form of white supremacy. "

A statue of Christopher Columbus, knocked down by protesters, is loaded onto a truck in St Paul, MinnesotaImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
LegendA statue of Christopher Columbus was overthrown by protesters in St Paul, Minnesota

Confederation-related monuments were particularly targeted in the United States amidst nationwide protests sparked by Floyd's death in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a month ago.

President Trump defended Confederate symbols as part of the American heritage.

The statues of Christopher Columbus, the XNUMXth century explorer whose travels on behalf of Spain paved the way for European colonization of the Americas, were also targeted as perceived symbols of imperialism.

Some state and local leaders have themselves taken steps to remove the Confederate symbols.

Earlier this month, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced that a statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee would be removed from the state capital in Richmond.

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