Police moved into Lafayette Square on Monday evening to protect another historic statue from rioters, this time targeting Andrew Jackson.
Demonstrators were able to tie some ropes around the Jackson statue and deface its concrete base with spray paint. But the bronze and iron statue is far too large and heavy to be pulled down by such impromptu means, according to WUSA.
Police have arrested two men and also cleared others from an encampment former on nearby H Street, WUSA said.
President Trump took to Twitter late Monday evening to threaten lengthy prison terms for violating laws against desecrating historic statues.
“Numerous people arrested in D.C. for the disgraceful vandalism, in Lafayette Park, of the magnificent Statue of Andrew Jackson … 10 years in prison under the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act. Beware!” he wrote.
Live TV images showed people being carried away and seeking medical assistance for stinging eyes and coughing. Reporters on the scene said it seemed as if pepper spray was being used.
Police told WUSA that four officers were hit by flying objects hurled at them by the rioters.
However, the statue of Jackson on a horse remained intact and surrounded by a police perimeter.
Numerous statues and memorials have been defaced by Black Lives Matter and similar protesters across the nation in the few weeks since the George Floyd killing, though many of them had no links to slavery or the Confederacy — Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, the World War II Memorial.
Jackson died decades before the Confederacy was founded and was notoriously tough with rumblings of Southern separatism that occurred during his presidency. But he also has been reviled by recent historians for his actions against American Indians and, like many Southerners of his era, he owned slaves.
The equestrian statue near the White House was dedicated before the Civil War on the anniversary of Jackson’s victory at the Battle of New Orleans over the British in the War of 1812.