Protesters Try To Topple Andrew Jackson Statue Near White House


Tuesday, June 23rd 2020, 7:58 am
By: CBS News


Protesters tried to pull down a statue of President Andrew Jackson near the White House Monday night before being dispersed by police. CBS D.C. affiliate WUSA-TV reported that police used pepper spray to move protesters out of Lafayette Square, where the Jackson statue is located. WUSA reporters were hit with some of the spray.

Protesters started calling for medics, and many members of the crowd could be seen rubbing their eyes, the station said. At least one protester was seen being carried out of the park by other protesters, WUSA added.

Videos posted on social media showed that the protesters had broken through the fence surrounding the statue, climbed on it and tied ropes around it, then tried to pull it off its pedestal.

The statue shows Jackson in a military uniform, riding a horse that's rearing on its hind legs.

The 19th century president's ruthless treatment of Native Americans has made his statue a target of demonstrators protesting the United States' legacy of racial injustice.

The Jackson statue remained on its pedestal Monday night.

President Trump tweeted late Monday that "Numerous people" had been arrested for "the disgraceful vandalism." He added: "10 years in prison under the Veteran's Memorial Preservation Act. Beware!"

Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump tweeted that he has "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. This action is taken effective immediately, but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused. There will be no exceptions!"

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was at the scene Monday night and issued a statement saying: "Let me be clear: we will not bow to anarchists. Law and order will prevail, and justice will be served."

Some protesters remained in the area of Black Lives Matter Plaza early Tuesday morning, deeming it an autonomous zone, WUSA said. But things were much quieter:

On June 1, law enforcement officers forcefully cleared peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square so Mr. Trump could could stage a photo op at a nearby church.

There is a Jackson portrait in the Oval Office.

D.C.'s only outdoor statue of a Confederate general was torn down and burned by protesters on Friday, WUSA notes. The statue, of Brigadier General Albert Pike, was one of 18 Civil War monuments in D.C. that has stood in Judiciary Square since 1901.

Though the statue was feet from D.C. Police headquarters, officers didn't respond to the scene until approximately an hour after the crowds gathered, after the statue had already been toppled and torched. When they arrived, they extinguished the flames. 

First published on June 23, 2020 / 6:38 AM

© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.