Protesters attempt to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square outside the White House on June 22. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Four men have been charged with destruction of federal property for allegedly trying to tear down the Andrew Jackson statue outside the White House this week, the Department of Justice said in a statement on Saturday night.
Driving the news: The announcement came hours after President Trump retweeted images of 15 people the U.S. Park Police said they and the FBI Washington Field Office's Violent Crimes Task Force were seeking to identify for "vandalizing" the statue and "other related crimes."
- Trump signed an executive order on Friday to denounce protesters who vandalized Civil War and World War II monuments. Most statues that have been torn down in recent weeks have been symbols of the Confederacy, Axios' Orion Rummler notes.
Zoom in: Lee Michael Cantrell, 47, of Virginia; Connor Matthew Judd, 20, of Washington, D.C.; Ryan Lane, 37, of Maryland; and Graham Lloyd, 37, of Maine, were charged by criminal complaint on Friday, according to the DOJ statement.
- Per DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec, the complaint, unsealed on Saturday, alleges that the four men "along with other unidentified individuals, damaged and attempted to tear down the statue."
What they're saying: Acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin said in a statement, "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: your violent behavior and criminal conduct will not be tolerated."
- James Dawson, the special agent in charge of the FBI Washington Field Office's Criminal Division, said in a statement, "The FBI respects the peaceful exercise of First Amendment rights, but we will not allow opportunists to hijack peaceful protests to incite violence and destruction of property.
"We will continue to work with our partners to enforce federal laws prohibiting damage to government facilities and property."
Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.