President Trump, in a video message on Thursday, vowed to stop “lawlessness” and to continue to protect monuments and statues across the nation after many were vandalized and destroyed in recent weeks.
“Lawlessness has been allowed to prevail. We’re not going to let it prevail any longer,” Trump said in a video message posted to his Twitter feed Thursday. “I signed an executive order just a few days ago, and since then, it’s been very calm. They go to prison for 10 years if they hurt our monuments or our statues.”
“It started off with Confederate statues but then it went to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln,” Trump continued. “It went to people that were abolitionists, people who wanted to stop slavery.
TRUMP SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER TO PROTECT AMERICAN MONUMENTS, MEMORIALS, STATUES
“It went to anything because frankly it didn’t matter to them. Anarchists, agitators, looters,” he said.
“And people aren’t happy,” Trump went on. “We call it the silent majority but it’s really bigger than that—its called the vast silent majority. And we’re all going make sure that this doesn’t happen any longer.”
He added: “Our country is great, it’s going to be greater than ever before. No doubt about it.”
The president’s video message comes after he signed an executive order last week to protect American monuments, memorials and statues and threatened those who try to pull them down with “long prison time.”
The new order enforces laws prohibiting the desecration of public monuments, the vandalism of government property, and recent acts of violence, withholds federal support tied to public spaces from state and local governments that have failed to protect public monuments, and withdraws federal grants for jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies that fail to stop their desecration. It also provides assistance for protecting the federal statues.
Earlier this week, Fox News reported that Department of Homeland Security will be deploying a special federal unit across the country for the July 4 weekend in order to protect federal monuments and statues amid concerns of “increased disruptive activity at specific locations across the country that could threaten our personnel and the Federal facilities and property they protect.”
Rapid Deployment Teams (RDTs) from the Protecting American Communities Task Force (PACT), consisting of law enforcement officers specially trained in areas such as crowd control and riot control, will be dispatched to Portland, Seattle and Washington D.C.
Additional RDTs will be dispatched regionally so that they can be flown into any other area within a few hours should unrest spark up in other cities across the U.S.
This is on top of a Federal Protective Service (FPS) presence being ramped up higher than usual for a weekend in response to the potential challenge. Hundreds of FPS officers will be protecting facilities, and DHS has identified hundreds more in case they need assistance.
DHS DEPLOYS SPECIAL FEDERAL UNIT TO PROTECT MONUMENTS OVER JULY 4 WEEKEND AMID VANDALISM FEARS
The move marks an aggressive response by the Trump administration to push back against the effort to target statues.
While the initial targets were Confederate generals and figures, it has spread to others including Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and Thomas Jefferson, who penned the Declaration of Independence.
But the efforts to reconsider these monuments have taken a more formal route as well, mostly for Confederate figures. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., recently ordered the removal of portraits in the Capitol of previous House speakers who served in the Confederacy.
“There’s no room in the hallowed halls of this democracy, this temple of democracy, to memorialize people who embody violent bigotry and grotesque racism of the Confederacy,” she said.
Meanwhile, a new ad from the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) pushes back on the effort to target statues.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.