A statue that depicts a freed slave kneeling at Abraham Lincoln's feet. Picture: AP
A statue that depicts a freed slave kneeling at Abraham Lincoln's feet. Picture: AP

Trump calls in hundreds of soldiers to protect famous slavery statue

US President Donald Trump has called in hundreds of soldiers to protect a famous statue in Washington DC originally meant to celebrate the end of slavery.

The development comes as he tweeted pictures of 15 people who allegedly targeted the Andrew Jackson statue in Washington DC and the President once more called for 10 years jail as punishment.

And the Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved a measure to abolish the city's police department - a radical proposal amid nationwide efforts by activists to defund local law enforcement agencies.

A statue that depicts a freed slave kneeling at Abraham Lincoln's feet in Washington, D.C. Picture: AP
A statue that depicts a freed slave kneeling at Abraham Lincoln's feet in Washington, D.C. Picture: AP

Meanwhile, 400 National Guard members have been deployed to protect the Emancipation Memorial in Washington DC after Black Lives Matters protesters vowed to bring it down.

The statue, which was constructed in 1876 and stands in Washington's Lincoln Park, depicts a freed slave kneeling at Abraham Lincoln's feet, which demonstrators claim resembles Black subservience rather than an ode to the end of slavery.

Law enforcement placed barriers around the memorial as protesters vowed to return to the park to urge the removal of the memorial.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser advised against toppling the memorial, saying the city should debate its fate and "not have a mob decide they want to pull it down."

 

Wisconsin's Forward statue lies in the street on Capitol Square in Madison. Picture: AP
Wisconsin's Forward statue lies in the street on Capitol Square in Madison. Picture: AP

Critics of the Emancipation Memorial say that the portrayal of the Black man kneeling in front of Lincoln is demeaning and suggests that enslaved African-Americans did not actively contribute to their own freedom.

President Donald Trump said that he could see "controversy but I can also see beauty," and suggested that people who want the monument removed should go through legal channels rather than trying to remove it themselves.

"I can understand certain things being taken down, but they ought to go through a process, legally," Trump said. "And then we take it down, in some cases, put them in museums or wherever they may go."

The call to remove the Lincoln statue comes as similar protests are erupting across the country, demanding that memorials to figures that symbolise white supremacy in any way be taken down.

 

 

"MANY people in custody, with many others being sought for Vandalisation of Federal Property in Lafayette Park," Mr Trump tweeted.

"10 year prison sentences! @FBIWFO," he added.

The tweet included pictures from the FBI of 15 people who are alleged to have vandalised the statue on June 22.

FBI officials in Washington have asked for help in identifying the individuals.

"On June 22, 2020, a group at approximately 7:15pm, a group of individuals vandalised the statue of President Andrew Jackson at Lafayette Square, located at Pennsylvania AVE NW and 16 the Street NW," the FBI said in a release.

 

 

"The FBI and the United States Park Police are attempting to identify the individuals responsible for the violation of the Destruction of Government Property.

"Damage or attempted damage exceeding $1,000 to federal property is a felony offence," the statement said.

Trump first tweeted earlier this week that he authorised Feds to jail anyone who "vandalises or destroys any monument or statue for up to 10 years.

"I have authorised the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalises 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.....," Trump tweeted early Tuesday.

Later that day, he announced he would be issuing an executive order to protect the monuments and statues.

"I will have an executive order very shortly, and all it's really going to do is reinforce what's already there, but in a more uniform way," Trump said as he was leaving the White House to head to Arizona.

 

 

And the Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved a measure to abolish the city's police department - a radical proposal amid nationwide efforts by activists to defund local law enforcement agencies.

The 12-0 vote will not automatically dismantle the department, but is a first step in a long legislative process that will ultimately need popular support by city residents in a November election.

 

 

The proposal gained popularity among city council members amid widespread protests and riots in the city following the killing of George Floyd by a city police officer last month.

Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck until Floyd lost consciousness and ultimately died, which was captured on video. Floyd's killing touched off nationwide protests against police brutality and sparked efforts to defund or abolish police forces in cities across the country.

The vote to abolish the police force Friday will require amending the city's charter. A draft amendment that was posted online suggests replacing the force with a "Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention."

 

Originally published as Trump calls in hundreds of soldiers to protect famous slavery statue



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