By Andrew Pauly
Amidst the push for societal reform sparked by the murder of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, and countless other victims of police brutality and systemic racism, protesters as well as local governments have called for the removal of various monuments.
Many of these monuments depict Confederate leaders and advocates of Jim Crow laws, segregation, social Darwinism, and glorify the historical implications of prejudice.
President Donald Trump issued an executive order Friday that protects these monuments from protesters – just a little over a week after the Republicans in the Senate unveiled their Justice in Policing Act. In stark comparison to that bill, which would pull funding from local police departments that refuse to eliminate brutal tactics, the Executive Order threatens to withdraw funding from local governments that fail to protect these monuments.
The fact that the Trump Administration is willing to provide the same punishment for defacing racist monuments as for brutal policing tactics that lead to tragedies like the murder of George Floyd shows how little he cares about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Trump also calls for the federal prosecution of protesters who deface these monuments with up to ten years in prison.
Despite Trump’s motivations and blatant disregard for humanity with his “Law and Order” stance, the forceful removal of these monuments is still vandalism and is illegal. Rather than defacing them, protesters should petition their local governments for their prompt removal.
These monuments glorify hate and prejudice and local and state governments should be leading the attempt to remove them as a statement of solidarity with the movement for racial justice.
The silence of community leaders in a period of progress encourages protesters to take these matters into their own hands.
Rather than seeking out punishment fueled by contempt towards the Black Lives Matter protests, the president should instead advocate for the statues’ removal as soon as possible.