U.S. Marshals have been told they should gear up to defend national monuments across the country, after several of the structures were toppled or vandalized during recent protests, a report said on Wednesday.
The service “has been asked to immediately prepare to provide federal law enforcement support to protect national monuments,” Marshals Assistant Director Andrew C. Smith wrote in an email obtained by The Washington Post.
“This is a challenging assignment due to the breadth of possible targets for criminal activity,” Smith wrote.
To coordinate, the Marshals Incident Management Team will start a Joint Operations Center in Springfield, Va., and every Special Operations Group deputy will be made available to help as soon as Thursday, he wrote.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Trump administration activated the National Guard to protect monuments in Washington, D.C., as anti-racism protests continue to rage in the nation’s capital.
The move came following the toppling on Friday of a statue of Confederate leader Albert Pike near the city’s police headquarters.
On Monday, protesters tried to take down a statue of President Andrew Jackson in a park next to the White House, but police in riot gear stopped them.
President Trump tweeted the next day that he had “authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the U.S. with up to 10 years in prison, per the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act, or such other laws that may be pertinent…”
Across the country, protesters against racism and police violence have toppled or tagged monuments of America’s past, including several statues of Confederate generals.
News – US Marshals told to ‘immediately prepare’ to defend national monuments