“The United States Park Police, in conjunction with the FBI Washington Field Office’s Violent Crimes Task Force, is attempting to identify several individuals who are responsible for vandalizing federal property,” the posters say.
The posters — which feature images of the alleged vandals — also list email addresses and phone numbers for tips.
The president’s tweets immediately drew outrage, with some pointing out that his actions could incite vigilantes taking matters into their own hands.
Reporter Andrew Feinberg wrote that Trump is “tweeting out a bunch of ‘wanted’ posters of (mostly black/brown) people who, at most, allegedly committed (or attempted) vandalism. He’s either going to get someone hurt/killed by vigilantes or get the USPP/FBI tip lines flooded w/ bad info, or both.”
As Mediaite noted, the president has previously suggested that the alleged vandals deserve 10-year prison sentences.
As NBC News reported, earlier this week, protesters defaced a statue of Andrew Jackson in Washington’s Lafayette Square. The authorities immediately closed the park, erecting a fence around the statue.
Jackson, who was a slaveholder, expelled thousands of Native Americans east of the Mississippi River. According to the publication, Trump praised Jackson in 2017 during a visit to his plantation.
The toppling of statues and confrontations with law enforcement began after the death of George Floyd. Floyd, an African-American man, died after a white police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department pinned him to the ground and knelt on his neck.
Trump has repeatedly condemned the violent protests, praising law enforcement officers and promising “long-term” prison sentences for those involved in the demonstrations.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2020
Top Republicans in the United States Congress have echoed Trump’s statements. In an interview on Friday, Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California accused Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and former Vice President Joe Biden of not saying “a word” against the violence.
McCarthy urged officials to enforce existing laws and prosecute the alleged vandals, pointing out that the St. Junipero Serra statue in San Francisco has been toppled.
“But, you know who’s district that’s in? Nancy Pelosi’s. And, she has not said a word. Joe Biden has not said a word,” the House minority leader said.
According to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll released last month, 61 percent of Americans think race was a “major factor” in Floyd’s death and 62 percent believe the criminal justice system treats white Americans better than Blacks.
Black Lives Matter Activists and some politicians have argued that police departments need to be defunded. However, according to the poll, 65 percent of Americans oppose such measures.