By: Akanksha A. Panicker
On 26 June 2020, in the wake of Black Lives Matter anti-racism and police brutality protests, the Trump Government Enacted the Executive Order “Protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues,” pushing for anyone who “participates in efforts to incite violence or other illegal activity in connection with riots and acts of vandalism” to be punished to the fullest degree possible. Pres. Trump stressed the importance of the order, stating that the citizens had a right to peacefully advocate for either the removal or the construction of any monument to individuals or organizations, but condemned individuals or groups from exercising this right to damage, deface or remove any monument by use of force. However, the order was signed with an intent clearly expressed to protect monuments and statues from “anarchists and left-wing extremists.”
However, in light of a mob of violent Trump supporters stormed the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, destroying, vandalizing, and desecrating federal property in the process, including several sculptures in Statuary Hall. Trump’s adherents had compromised the U.S. Capitol, causing the house to be shut down. Videos and photographs show demonstrators in confrontation with the police.
The order itself calls on the Justice Department to make a priority of those cases and instructs U.S. agencies to possibly withhold money from cities and states that did not protect memorials from “destruction of vandalism.” Thus, a major issue is a bias toward social justice protesters and unequal applications of the law.