The U.S. Marshals Service has reportedly been asked to prepare to protect monuments around the nation as President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rally sparks self quarantine of dozens of Secret Service agents GOP: Trump needs a new plan Trump faces ObamaCare court deadline as political ground shifts MORE vows to crack down on protestors who target controversial statues.
Marshals Service Assistant Director Andrew C. Smith said that the agency was “asked to immediately prepare to provide federal law enforcement support to protect national monuments (throughout the country),” according to an email directive obtained by The Washington Post.
The subject line of the email called the request an “Attorney General Assignment,” suggesting that it originated from Attorney General William BarrBill BarrJustice Department officials say decisions are politicized Judiciary Democrat calls for House to pursue impeachment of Barr Barr to testify in House oversight hearing next month MORE. Smith said in the email that the assignment would be “challenging,” considering the “breadth of possible targets for criminal activity.”
The U.S. Marshals Incident Management Team will start a joint operations center in Virginia to coordinate the assignment, Smith said, according to the Post. The newspaper noted that the directive said every deputy in the Special Operations Group would be available for the assignment as soon as Thursday.
Smith reportedly asked some districts and divisions to identify personnel who may be able to help with the initiative over the next two weeks. It remains unclear what type of work the agency has been asked to do.
“We don’t confirm or deny any enforcement actions that we might take,” a spokesperson for the Marshals Service told the Post.
The Marshals Service and the Justice Department did not immediately return requests for comment from The Hill.
Statues of Confederate leaders and other figures viewed as symbols of racism have been toppled in cities across the nation amid demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
Demonstrators in Washington, D.C., on Monday attempted to pull down a statue of former President Andrew Jackson in a park located next to the White House. Jackson, the seventh president of the U.S., signed the Indian Removal Act while in office, a policy that relocated many Native Americans and led to the deaths of thousands.
But U.S. Park Police dispersed the crowd before the protestors were able to get the monument off its pedestal.
The incident prompted outrage from President Trump, who has vowed punishment for any person who vandalizes or desecrates a U.S. monument. He said Tuesday that he was preparing an executive order to reinforce existing laws that punish people who target monuments. He also has called for “long-term jail sentences” for the people who attempted to topple the Jackson statue.
Trump said in a tweet Wednesday night that it was “very sad” to see states allowing protestors to “indiscriminately” topple “our statues and monuments to the past.”
“Some are great works of art, but all represent our History & Heritage, both the good and the bad,” he added. “It is important for us to understand and remember, even in turbulent and difficult times, and learn from them. Knowledge comes from the most unusual of places!”