WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Four men have been charged in connection with damage to a statue of President Andrew Jackson during protests near the White House, the U.S. Justice Department said on Saturday.
The four people, who were from Washington, D.C.; Maryland; Maine and Virginia, were charged with destruction of federal property in connection with their alleged effort to tear down Jackson’s statue on June 22, the Justice Department said.
“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,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin.
In the demonstration on Monday, protesters scrawled “killer scum” on the statue’s pedestal, fastened ropes and cords around the sculpted heads of both Jackson and his horse and doused the marble base with yellow paint before the crowd began trying to yank the statute from its base.
Dozens of law enforcement officers, led by U.S. Park Police, stormed into the square and scattered the protesters.
The protest came after crowds peacefully protesting the death of George Floyd under the knee of a police officer in Minneapolis were forcibly displaced three weeks ago to make way for staged photos of President Donald Trump holding up a Bible in front of a historic nearby church.
Jackson, the seventh U.S. president, was a slave owner and championed a policy of moving Native Americans west of the Mississippi. During his administration, the Cherokee Nation was forced to move from the Southeast to present-day Oklahoma in what is now called “The Trail of Tears.”
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; editing by Jonathan Oatis)