U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an order to protect monuments, memorials and statues after they have been targeted amid racial protests in the country, and he is punishing those responsible with “long prison terms”.

The executive order indicates that the federal government will ensure that any person who attacks monuments will be prosecuted and face up to 10 years in prison. The order also establishes which federal security forces will intervene to protect the monuments when local authorities fail to do so.

Trump already warned last Tuesday with jail sentences and said he had authorized the arrest of “anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other federal property in the United States” and threatened to apply the “Veterans Memorial Preservation Act or any other legislation that may be applicable.

Amidst the excitement of the protests that swept across the country after the death of African-American policeman George Floyd on May 25, statues of historical figures have been attacked and even removed by the crowd, something that Trump has strongly criticized.

The main target of the protesters has been the Confederate symbols – defenders of slavery during the Civil War – which abound especially in the southern states, but statues of the Spanish conquistadors or the “founding fathers” of the United States have also been attacked.

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