Jun 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump denounces protesters tearing down statues, as Confederate monuments are targeted

Trump signs an executive order

President Trump signed an executive order on Friday to denounce protesters that have vandalized Civil War and World War II monuments, although most statues that have been torn down in recent weeks have been symbols of the Confederacy.

The big picture: Black Lives Matter protests against police violence and racism have exacerbated a long-standing debate about the place for and relevancy of Confederate-era monuments and iconography.

Driving the news: At least 29 Confederate monuments have been yanked down or removed by protesters and state or city officials since Memorial Day, according to the Washington Post.

  • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced that the state will get rid of the famous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond's historic Monument Avenue.
  • City officials in Mobile, Alabama, removed the statue of Confederate Adm. Raphael Semmes, Mayor Sandy Stimpson tweeted.
  • In Boston, protester vandalized the Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Memorial earlier this month. The monument is dedicated to Black soldiers who fought in the Civil War, as Trump's executive order points out.
  • In San Francisco, a statue of former President Ulysses S. Grant, a Union general, was toppled last week, which the executive order references. Grant was the last U.S. president to own a slave.
  • The U.S. Navy and Marines, as well as corporations and organizations like Walmart, the NCAA and NASCAR, have all issued policies this month to ban Confederate symbols on their properties, in response to protests.
  • A spokesperson for Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said he's open to a "bipartisan discussion" about renaming the military bases and facilities that are named after Confederate leaders, including Fort Bragg and Fort Benning.

Details: The executive order stresses that, under the Veterans’ Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act, defacing monuments that commemorate the service of anyone in the U.S. armed forces can be imprisoned for at least 10 years and fined.

What he's saying:

"They’re tearing down statues, desecrating monuments, and purging dissenters. It’s not the behavior of a peaceful political movement; it’s the behavior of totalitarians and tyrants and people that don’t love our country."
— Trump said in a statement on Friday

Go deeper: Trump says he will "not even consider" renaming bases named for Confederate leaders

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