“Lee Michael Cantrell, 47, of Virginia; Connor Matthew Judd, 20, of Washington, D.C.; Ryan Lane, 37, of Maryland; and Graham Lloyd, 37, of Maine, were charged by criminal complaint yesterday with destruction of federal property”, the press release, which was published on Saturday evening, read.
The charges relate to an attempt made this past Monday to tear down the monument, which is located on Lafayette Square in Washington. On Friday, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order to protect the country’s monuments and statues, which have become a major target for civil rights protesters over the past month following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“This Office remains steadfast in its commitment to protect the sacred First Amendment right of individuals to peacefully protest, but these charges should serve as a warning to those who choose to desecrate the statues and monuments that adorn our nation’s capital: your violent behavior and criminal conduct will not be tolerated”, acting US Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin said in the press release.
Andrew Jackson served as US president from 1829 to 1837. Statues depicting Jackson have been targeted and defaced by protesters, given that the former president owned slaves throughout his lifetime.
Statues commemorating slave owners or individuals linked with racism have been toppled in many US cities over recent weeks. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced in early June that a statue in Richmond depicting Confederate general Robert E. Lee would be removed, although these attempts have been blocked by an indefinite injunction handed down by a circuit court judge.