Andrew Jackson remains on the nation's pedestal

Police investigate the defacing of a statue of Andrew Jackson on Monday, June 22, 2020, in downtown Jacksonville, Fla The statue was splattered with red paint and "Slave Owner" written over Jackson's name on the lower plaque. (Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP)

The Associated Press

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt: 'We will not bow to anarchists. Law and order will prevail, and justice will be served'

The Associated Press

Andrew Jackson won the day. At least for now. Statues of President Andrew Jackson were attacked near the White House in Washington and in Jacksonville, Florida.

In Washington, WUSA-TV reported that police used pepper spray to move protesters out of Lafayette Square, where the Jackson statue is located. Videos posted on social media showed that the protesters had climbed on the statue and tied ropes around it, then tried to pull it off its pedestal.

The statue shows Jackson in a military uniform, riding a horse that is rearing on its hind legs. The 19th century president's ruthless treatment of Native Americans has made his statue a target of demonstrators protesting the United States' legacy of racial injustice. As Alysa Landry wrote in May 2017 in Indian Country Today: "Andrew Jackson took office with one goal set firmly in his mind: Indians must be moved 'beyond the great river Mississippi.'” By any means.

The Jackson statue remained on its pedestal Monday night.

President Donald Trump tweeted late Monday that "Numerous people" had been arrested for "the disgraceful vandalism." He added: "10 years in prison under the Veteran's Memorial Preservation Act. Beware!"

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was at the scene Monday night, and issued a statement saying: "Let me be clear: we will not bow to anarchists. Law and order will prevail, and justice will be served."

On June 1, law enforcement officers forcefully cleared peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square so Trump could stage a photo op at a nearby church.

'Slave owner'

The words "Slave Owner" were scrawled in red paint across a statue of Jackson in Jacksonville on Monday. The prominent statue is located in the center of a busy traffic circle. Media reports say Jacksonville was named after Jackson, the seventh president of the U.S. and an American military figure who led several campaigns against the Seminole Indians in Florida. 

Critics have said his legacy related to Native Americans were part of an ugly chapter in American history, crimes that would include ethnic cleansing in international law today.

The act comes as cities across the country are reconsidering long-held policies, practices, venue names and statues tied to slavery after the death of George Floyd. 

The statue was also vandalized twice in 2015 when someone spray-painted "Black Lives Matter" and "Justice for D," a reference to D'Angelo Stallworth, who was shot and killed by officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Further reading:

Indian-Killer Andrew Jackson Deserves Top Spot on List of Worst US Presidents

Andrew Jackson: Instigator of Indian Removal

Andrew Jackson stays. But county to add a note about his evils

Andrew Jackson: the Father of Genocide of the South and Eastern Tribes

10 people whose statues should replace Columbus

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