WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Saturday called for the arrest of protesters allegedly involved in an attempt to tear down a statue of Andrew Jackson by tweeting images of their wanted posters.
Trump posted photos of 15 people the U.S. Park Police said it is attempting to identify "who are responsible for vandalizing property" in a park in front of the White House. A Black man in one of the photos is wearing a "Black Lives Matter" T-shirt, and a White man in another has a shirt with the slogan "I Can't Breathe."
The president on Friday circulated an FBI wanted poster with the images of the 15 people to his 82.5 million Twitter followers. On Saturday, individual tweets were sent for each person, mostly in a three-minute burst shortly after 6 p.m.
The striking social media posts come as Trump intensified his verbal attacks on protesters demonstrating against police brutality that erupted following the May death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
The president in public remarks has increasingly stressed his "law and order" message, rather than focus on outreach or police reform, as he seeks to energize his conservative supporters at a moment when he trails Democratic challenger Joe Biden in the polls.
Trump also lashed out at the Black Lives Matter movement in an interview published on Saturday, saying its agenda was "extremist" and criticizing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for floating the idea of painting the slogan on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, near Trump Tower.
"You see their leaders on TV saying 'give us what we want, or we'll burn down this system and replace it.' That's almost terrorism," Trump told The Federalist, a conservative online publication.
The comments were an apparent reference to a Fox News interview with Hawk Newsome that first aired Wednesday, and has been replayed many times since. The network identified Newsome, who had 1,996 Twitter followers as of Saturday evening, as the "chair" of Black Lives Matter for greater New York. The movement is known to lack a formal leadership structure.
Some demonstrators' attempts to tear down statues, mostly of Confederate generals and leaders, have also angered Trump.
Trump announced Friday on Twitter that he scrapped a planned weekend trip to his private golf club in New Jersey in order to stay in Washington "to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced."
On Saturday morning, the president played a round of golf at his club in nearby Northern Virginia.
The president on Friday signed an executive order calling on people who destroy or vandalize monuments to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The order said it is meant to protect statues from "anarchists and left-wing extremists."
Trump also derided protesters in a Fox News interview on Thursday night, promising retribution: "These people are vandals, but they're agitators. But they're really - they're terrorists in a sense."
Protesters on Monday night attempted to pull down the statue of Jackson, the 7th U.S. president, with ropes and chains, according to photos and videos of the scene. Jackson had become a target because of his brutal treatment of Native Americans during the 1800s. Police thwarted the attempt and blocked off Lafayette Square, which had just recently been re-opened following mass protests against the death of Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
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