U.S. marshals are being told they should be ready to help protect national monuments as protests against racism and police violence continue.
The Washington Post reported the directive came in an email from Marshals Service Assistant Director Andrew Smith. In the email, Smith wrote the agency “has been asked to immediately prepare to provide federal law enforcement support to protect national monuments (throughout the country).”
“This is a challenging assignment due to the breadth of possible targets for criminal activity,” he wrote. The newspaper noted that other internal correspondence suggests officials are concerned attempts could be made to vandalize monuments over the July 4 holiday.
President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he has “authorized” federal authorities to arrest people trying to vandalize or destroy monuments, statues, or other federal property.
Trump’s comments came in tweets posted after protesters unsuccessfully tried to take down a statue of former President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square, a park just north of the White House.
The Pentagon said on Wednesday that between 100 and 400 National Guard members will provide security and crowd management to keep monuments from being defaced.
The Post noted that protesters have toppled statues of figures from America’s past — including Confederate generals — as part of the continued demonstrations throughout the country.