U.S. Park Police officers in Washington D.C. sparred with racial justice protestors who tried to knock over a statue of the seventh U.S. President Andrew Jackson late Monday afternoon.

Protestors slashed through a fence barricade in Lafayette Park, which is a seven-acre public area owned by the federal government that is located right by the White House and attempted to pull down the 168-year-old statue with ropes. The demonstrators had climbed on top of the statue and attempted to create an “autonomous zone.” 

Officers stormed the area and used rubber bullets and pepper spray to dispel the crowd. They also used a bicycle barricade to move back the group from the bulwarked area.

Several demonstrators also tried to set up barricades outside the White House and declared what they called the Black House Autonomous Zone, spray painting the acronym “BHAZ” on St. John’s Episcopal Church.

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Protesters have criticized Jackson for owning slaves and his role of removing Native Americans from their land. Racial justice demonstrators are most critical over the Trail of Tears, in which Jackson forcefully removed indigenous Native American tribes from their land in the south at the behest of wealthy southern slave owners. In 1830, Jackson signed into law a piece of legislation, the Indian Removal Act, that drove Indians into a new area designated by U.S. Congress as Indian Territory, which was west of the Mississippi River.

In response to Monday’s protest, President Donald Trump has ordered federal police to arrest anyone who attempts to vandalize or destroy any statue that is located on federal property. He signed an executive order that says that says they can face up to 10 years in jail, citing the 2003 Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act.


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