Earlier this week, President Trump promised to sign a "very strong" executive order regarding the protection of monuments around the US, and on Friday he got his pen out. "I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues - and combatting recent Criminal Violence," Trump tweeted late Friday afternoon, adding, "Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country!" The order, which basically authorizes the attorney general to enforce the already existing Veterans' Memorial Preservation Act, gives the AG the ability to "prioritize" within the DOJ cases involving the damaging of monuments, with a penalty "of up to 10 years' imprisonment." The order also notes that states and law enforcement agencies that don't adequately protect statues and monuments risk losing federal grants.
"Jurisdictions' recent abandonment of their law enforcement responsibilities with respect to public monuments, memorials, and statues casts doubt on their willingness to protect other public spaces and maintain the peace within them," the order states, per the Wall Street Journal. After the signing, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the order signified that "President Trump will never allow violence to control our streets, rewrite our history, or harm the American way of life," per CNN. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, talked to Wolf Blitzer on CNN Friday night and lamented the president's focus, saying he thought Trump should be concentrating on recent spikes in coronavirus cases around the country. "I wish he cared more about living Americans instead of dead Confederates," Inslee said, per Politico. (Read more national monuments stories.)