President Donald Trump and his Republicans in Congress angrily rejected efforts to remove statues and other monuments that activists consider racist on Tuesday. This movement has gained momentum as part of broader national protests against racial injustice and police brutality.
Trump announced "effective immediately" approval earlier Tuesday to arrest someone caught destroying or destroying a memorial to a former member of the federal armed forces, citing the Veterans Memorial Act, which has been in effect for 17 years is required by law.
He threatened to be arrested for the first time late Monday evening when protesters attempted to topple a statue of former President Andrew Jackson near the White House. Jackson enslaved the blacks as plantation owners and is known for the trail of tears, a forced removal of Native Americans from the south that resulted in the deaths of thousands.
The demonstrators also declared an autonomous zone of the Black House opposite the White House in front of St. John's Church and took over the Black Lives Matter Plaza. They sprayed "BHAZ" on pillars in front of the church, which had a small cellar fire during earlier protests.
"Offenders must be prosecuted. These senseless attacks must be stopped," Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the US House of Representatives, said on Twitter.
Many of the statues and monuments that crowds have been targeting in recent weeks are a tribute to the rebel confederacy from the nation's civil war. Democrats and other critics say such symbols incorrectly honor those who have perpetuated slavery.
Calls to crush them follow a wave of protests following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. This has led to ongoing demonstrations and calls to combat racism in policing and other reforms.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)