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House Republican Proposes Criminalizing Destruction of Presidential Monuments

Protestors attempt to pull down the statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park during a protest in Washington, D.C., June 22, 2020. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Representative Jim Banks (R., Ind.) is proposing a bill to revise the Veterans’ Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act to protect statues of former U.S. presidents and the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

The Defending America’s Culture and Heritage Act (DAHCA) would amend the 2003 Veterans’ Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act, which criminalized the deliberate destruction of memorials honoring veterans, to extend the law’s protections to monuments honoring presidents and Founding Fathers. Currently, violators of the law can be punished by up to ten years in prison.

“Attacks on our national heroes denigrate what makes us American and aim to destroy what binds us as Americans. They’re serious crimes that deserve serious punishment,” Banks said in a statement.

President Trump himself slammed protesters for attempting to topple a statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park on Monday. Recent weeks have seen a surge in the desecration of public monuments, including the destruction of statues honoring Ulysses S. Grant, George Washington, and others. D.C. protesters said Tuesday that they planned to topple the Emancipation Memorial, erected in 1876 to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s emancipation of slaves during the Civil War, on Thursday evening.

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