Four men were charged after they tried to tear down a statue of former President Andrew Jackson near the White House on Monday.
The Department of Justice announced Saturday that the men were charged with destruction of federal property, a felony with a maximum sentence of 10 years.
“Lee Michael Cantrell, 47, of Virginia; Connor Matthew Judd, 20, of Washington, D.C.; Ryan Lane, 37, of Maryland; and Graham Lloyd, 37, of Maine, were charged by criminal complaint yesterday with destruction of federal property,” Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin said in a statement.
“The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia will not stand idly by and allow our national monuments to be vandalized and destroyed,” Sherwin continued.
One defendant was already arrested and the three others “have not yet been apprehended.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Saturday announced the charges on Twitter, adding Trump is “prosecuting individuals tearing down our statues to the fullest extent of the law!”
President @realDonaldTrump is prosecuting individuals tearing down our statues to the fullest extent of the law!
“Four Men Charged in Federal Court for Attempting to Tear Down Statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square Amid Protests” https://t.co/5XAhloZLG3
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) June 28, 2020
On Friday President TrumpDonald John TrumpFour men charged for trying to tear down Andrew Jackson statue in DC Video shows workers removed social distancing signs before Trump Tulsa rally: WaPo Biden slams Trump for not sanctioning Russia over Afghan militant ‘bounties’ intelligence MORE signed an executive order aimed at protecting federal monuments and prioritizing prosecution of protesters who damage them. On the same day, he also posted an image to Twitter showing the 15 suspects U.S. Park Police and the FBI believe vandalized the statue in Washington’s Lafayette Square area.
News of the charges comes as Washington has seen some of the nation’s largest protests over racial inequality and the death of Black Americans at the hands of police. Many demonstrators, lawmakers and advocates have called for the removal of Confederate statues in and around the nation’s capital.
Jackson’s statue has been targeted because of his severe treatment of Native Americans in the 19th century.
Trump has been at odds with protesters in Washington and around the country. The president has defended allowing Confederate statues to remain in public spaces, and has taken aggressive action against peaceful protestors.
Earlier this month, federal law enforcement used chemical agents to disperse protesters at Lafayette Square so the president could take a photo at St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Other monuments of Confederates across the country have been toppled in recent weeks as a result of the protests.