0929 GMT January 17, 2021
Trump’s warning on Twitter came as a growing swath of such statues, many paying homage to the rebel Confederacy from the nation’s Civil War-era, have been targeted amid weeks of protests over racism and policing.
Thousands of protesters tried to topple the statue of a former US president near the White House Monday evening as police responded with pepper spray to break up new demonstrations that erupted in Washington.
A wave of nationwide rallies calling for racial justice has swept the United States since the May 25 death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
On Monday, many demonstrators were pushed back by at least 100 security force personnel after they had thrown ropes around the statue of Andrew Jackson, the divisive seventh US president, in Lafayette Park, thestatesman.com reported.
Jackson, in office from 1829 to 1837, owned more than 500 slaves over the course of his life and was a key figure in the forced relocation of at least 60,000 Native Americans, otherwise known as the Trail of Tears.
“We had ropes, chains, a pulley to pull, and we were going to attach that and tear down the statue,” a 20-year-old protester told AFP, on condition of anonymity.
A helicopter circled over the gathering of hundreds of people on the newly-renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza, as officers continued to use pepper spray to disperse the protesters.
Earlier this month, police broke up a peaceful rally in Lafayette Park moments before Trump walked from the White House for a photo-op at a historic church damaged by arson the previous night.
The clash over Jackson’s statue is part of the latest movement in the protests: Tearing down statues and monuments to individuals linked to the US’ racist past.
On Sunday, one person died and 11 more were wounded in a shooting in the US city of Minneapolis.
Minneapolis has been a center of anti-racism and police brutality protests that have spread across the US since George Floyd died while being restrained by a white officer.
Trump has delivered blunt instructions to local leaders confronting the protests, telling authorities to “dominate the streets,” and he has been unapologetic about the heavy deployment of forces.