The Trump administration is set to deploy U.S. marshals to guard national monuments and statues, including those that celebrate the Confederacy, as the president prepares an executive order to protect them.
The Washington Post reports: In an email, Marshals Service Assistant Director Andrew C. Smith wrote that the agency “has been asked to immediately prepare to provide federal law enforcement support to protect national monuments (throughout the country).” The subject line of the message indicates it is an “Attorney General Assignment,” suggesting it came from Attorney General William P. Barr. “This is a challenging assignment due to the breadth of possible targets for criminal activity,” Smith wrote. He said the Marshals Incident Management Team would start a joint operations center in Springfield, Va., to coordinate, and every deputy in the Special Operations Group would be made available to help as soon as Thursday. … On Monday, protesters attempted to topple a statue of President Andrew Jackson in a park next to the White House, though police in riot gear intervened and stopped them. That night, Trump tweeted his dismay, and the next morning he wrote that he had “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…..”
More from CNN: Trump on Wednesday characterized attempts to remove racist or problematic monuments as going to an extreme.”I think many of the people that are knocking down the statues don’t even have any idea what the statue is, what it means, who it is when they knocked down,” Trump said, citing the toppling of a bust of Union general and former President Ulysses S. Grant as an example.”Now they are looking at Jesus Christ, they are looking at George Washington, they’re looking at Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson. Not going to happen, not going to happen while I’m here,” Trump said.There have not been widespread reports of activists tearing down statues of Jesus. … While Trump listed names like Washington, Lincoln and Jesus, his bid to preserve monuments originated against attempts to remove statues of Confederate generals and soldiers. Trump has said they should not be removed.
NBC News’ Geoff Bennett reported Wednesday night that Trump personally asked the Interior Secretary to put back up Washington D.C.’s only outdoor Confederate statute, which was torn down on Juneteenth: