US President Donald Trump on Friday (local time) said that he has signed a "very strong" executive order aimed at protecting the country's monuments and statues from vandalism.
"I just had the privilege of signing a very strong executive order protecting American monuments, memorials and statues -- and combatting recent criminal violence. Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our great country!" Trump tweeted.
I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues - and combatting recent Criminal Violence. Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2020
The White House is yet to release details on the executive order.
Earlier this week, Trump said that he was preparing an order after protestors tried to vandalise a statue of former President Andrew Jackson near the White House amid nationwide demonstrations against racism and police brutality, which are taking place following the death of George Floyd, an African-American man in police custody last month.
The US President asserted that the order would reinforce existing law, The Hill reported.
The Veterans' Memorial Preservation Act passed in 2003 already empowers authorities to impose fines and a jail term of up to 10 years for "attempts to injure or destroy, any structure, plaque, statue or other monument on public property commemorating the service of any person or persons in the armed forces of the US."
At a press conference, Trump said that the executive order would "consolidate various things."
The National Guard has been activated in Washington DC to protect federal monuments following Monday's attempt by the protestors to topple Andrew Jackson's bust.