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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."

Go deeper: Confederate monuments become flashpoints in protests against racism

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

D.C. task force targets monuments due to slavery connections

People watch fireworks near the Washington Monument at the close of the Republican National Convention. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

The Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial are among the targets of a task force D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser named this summer amid nationwide protests, AP reports.

The state of play: The committee yesterday recommended changes for dozens of monuments, schools, parks and buildings because of their namesakes' association with slavery or racial oppression.

Updated Sep 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump issues memo to cut funding from "anarchist" Democratic cities

President Trump during a speech in Wilmington, N.C., on Wednesday. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Trump issued a memorandum on Wednesday titled "Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities."

Why it matters: The review threatens to withdraw federal funding for any "anarchist jurisdiction" it finds "disempowers or defunds police departments." The memo specifically mentions the Democratic-controlled cities of Portland, Seattle, New York, and Washington, D.C.

The Democrats' wake-up call

Eric Adams, a former cop who leads the New York mayoral race, speaks last night at the Schimanski nightclub in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Democrats, in private and public, are warning that rising crime — and the old and new progressive calls to defund the police — represent the single biggest threat to their electoral chances in 2022.

Why it matters: There has been a big spike in big-city crime, a dynamic increasingly captured in local coverage and nationally on CNN and Fox News.