Trump Threatens ‘Serious Force’ Against Protesters In DC

TOPSHOT - The equestrian statue of former US President General Andrew Jackson has ropes and chains still hanging, after protesters tried to topple it, at Lafayette square, in front of the White House, in Washington, ... TOPSHOT - The equestrian statue of former US President General Andrew Jackson has ropes and chains still hanging, after protesters tried to topple it, at Lafayette square, in front of the White House, in Washington, DC on June 22, 2020. - A crowd of protestors tried to topple the statue of a former US president near the White House on the evening of June 22 as police responded with pepper spray to break up new demonstrations that erupted in Washington. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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June 23, 2020 7:40 a.m.

President Trump threatened anti-racism protesters on Tuesday morning, in what has become a common refrain for a president who brandishes a show a force at signs of dissent. This time, the President sounded off on Twitter to warn that protesters who attempt to vandalize or tear down statues of historical figures — many of whom have links to white supremacy — would be subject to arrest.

A couple hours later, Trump escalated his threats in a new tweet threatening “serious force” against protesters.

The comments come after protesters tried to tear down a statue of former President Andrew Jackson near the White House on Monday. Some protesters had also spray-painted the words ‘Black House Autonomous Zone’ on a piece of plywood and posted them in front of Lafayette Square. St John’s Episcopal Church with the letters “BHAZ” in the fashion of the ‘autonomous zone’ occupied by protesters at Seattle’s Capitol Hill last week. Both moves were thwarted by police. “DCist” reporter Margaret Barthel shot and shared video footage from the demonstration.

The protesters could be heard chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Andrew Jackson’s got to go” as some climbed the statue which still stands in Lafayette Square — the same park where law enforcement officials, by order of Attorney General Bill Bar, teargassed and used violent force to clear protesters from the area for a presidential photo-op in front of St John’s Episcopal Church just weeks ago on June 1.

Before the statue could be knocked from its pedestal, U.S. Park Police officers in riot gear appeared and began swinging batons and sending off waves of pepper spray to push protesters away from the scene. 

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, whose agency oversees the Park Police, echoed on Monday night the president’s mantra about “law and order,” using the term “anarchists” to describe the group that was violently dispersed from the park.

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