The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that four men are facing charges related to the destruction of federal property for their parts in an attempt to destroy a statue of President Andrew Jackson in Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Park on June 22, Fox News reported.
According to Fox, those facing the felony charges include Virginia resident Lee Michael Cantrell, 47; 20-year-old Connor Matthew Judd of Washington, D.C.; Ryan Lane, a 37-year-old from Maryland; and Graham Lloyd, another 37-year-old from Maine.
The men were allegedly captured on video trying to “pry the statue off its base with a wooden board” and pull it down with a strap, Fox News noted. The words “killer scum” were also spray-painted on the base of the statue, which was painted yellow.
Lloyd was also reportedly shown on video pulling wheels off cannons affixed to the base of the statue and destroying them. Large numbers of U.S. Park Police scattered the rioters to stop the destruction, according to NPR.
Issuing a warning
The joint investigation into the statue’s vandalism was carried out with coordination between the U.S. Park Police and the Violent Crime Task Force of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Fox reported.
“This office remains steadfast in its commitment to protect the sacred First Amendment right of individuals to peacefully protest, but these charges should serve as a warning to those who choose to desecrate the statues and monuments that adorn our nation’s capital,” Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin said, according to Reuters.
The charges came just a day after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to ensure stiff penalties for those who destroy federal property, promising “long prison terms” for violators, as NBC News reported.
A conviction on the charges faced by these men can result in a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison, the president’s order indicated.
Judd was arrested Friday, but the other three men had not yet been arrested as of Saturday, Fox News reported.
Enough is enough
Protesters across the country started out by tearing down and defacing statues that represented Confederate leaders like General Robert E. Lee, but they quickly moved on to the attempted destruction of monuments depicting a wide range of figures from American history, as The Hill noted. Jackson’s controversial history of relocating Native Americans by force during his presidency is purportedly why protesters targeted his statue in the nation’s capital last week.
The fact that our government is willing to punish this type of lawlessness and blatant disregard for our nation’s history — complexities and all — is a hopeful sign for the future of the country.