President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr both took new steps on Friday to combat the extremists who have been wreaking havoc across the country in recent weeks and to protect America’s monuments.
Trump tweeted late on Friday, “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!”
Barr announced the creation of a new task force to take on the anti-government extremists who have been causing much of the destruction in recent weeks.
“I am today directing the creation of a task force devoted to countering violent anti-government extremists,” Barr wrote in a memo. “The task force will be co-headed by Craig Carpenito, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, and Eric Nealy Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. The task force will include members of United States Attorney’s Offices, the FBI, and other relevant components across the Nation. Drawing particularly on the capabilities of the FBI, the task force will develop detailed information about violent anti-government extremist individuals, networks, and movements – and will share that information as appropriate with federal, state, and local law enforcement, especially in places where these extremists pose a threat.”
Barr specifically mentioned Antifa and other groups in his memo and noted that “some of these violent extremists, moreover, may be fortified by foreign entities seeking to sow chaos and disorder in our country.”
“The task force will also provide training and identify resources to help law enforcement at all levels identify, investigate, and prosecute violent acts by anti-government extremists,” the memo said. “The ultimate goal of the task force will be not only to enable prosecutions of extremists who engage in violence, but to understand these groups well enough that we can stop such violence before it occurs and ultimately eliminate it as a threat to public safety and the rule of law.”
The moves by the president and the attorney general come after violent riots that were touched off by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month quickly morphed into the destruction of monuments, statues, and memorials across the country.
In recent days, extremists have destroyed statues of former Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ulysses S. Grant, and attempted to destroy the statue of former President Andrew Jackson before being stopped by law enforcement.
The American Museum of Natural History announced on Sunday that it would take down a statue of former President Theodore Roosevelt that has been located on the property for 80 years.