President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE in a late-night tweet said it is sad to see states allowing “wise guys, anarchists & looters” to topple statues and monuments during protests.
The president stood his ground in opposing efforts by protesters to remove or vandalize public statues and monuments of controversial historical figures, saying it’s “important” for people to “learn from them.”
“Very sad to see States allowing roving gangs of wise guys, anarchists & looters, many of them having no idea what they are doing, indiscriminately ripping down our statues and monuments to the past,” he tweeted late Wednesday.
“Some are great works of art, but all represent our History & Heritage, both the good and the bad,” he continued. “It is important for us to understand and remember, even in turbulent and difficult times, and learn from them. Knowledge comes from the most unusual of places!”
....the good and the bad. It is important for us to understand and remember, even in turbulent and difficult times, and learn from them. Knowledge comes from the most unusual of places!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2020
The president’s tweet followed his comments at a Rose Garden press conference earlier in the day when he suggested that demonstrators were aiming to take down statues of presidents and Jesus Christ, in an apparent reference to progressive activist Shaun King’s calls to remove those monuments.
"Now they’re looking at Jesus Christ. They’re looking at George Washington. They’re looking at Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson," Trump said. "Not going to happen. Not going to happen. Not as long as I’m here."
Earlier this week, Trump vowed to defend the statues by prepping an executive order to reinforce current laws that place penalties on those who vandalize monuments. The president tweeted early Tuesday that those who deface, damage or destroy federal monuments and statues should receive “up to 10 years in prison.”
The push to remove statues of controversial historical figures, particularly Confederate leaders, comes as protests over police brutality have rocked the nation. The demonstrations were sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.
Some city officials have moved to formally take down monuments to Confederate leaders, but in other cities, demonstrators took matters into their own hands and defaced or toppled these monuments themselves.
Protesters have also targeted other monuments in recent days, ranging from former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo (D) to Christopher Columbus.
Last week, San Francisco protesters took down a statue of President Ulysses S. Grant, the commander of the Union forces. This week, demonstrators attempted to topple a statue of President Andrew Jackson outside the White House.