Four individuals have been charged with “destruction of federal property” over the recent attempt of taking down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square, according to a statement issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The four men were named as 47-year-old Lee Michael Cantrell of Virginia; 20-year-old Connor Matthew Judd of DC; 37-year-old Ryan Lane of Maryland; and 37-year-old Graham Lloyd of Maine.
The suspects were allegedly caught on camera on June 22, 2020, while damaging and trying to tear down the Jackson statue located in Lafayette Square, the statement explained, adding that there were other people involved who have not been identified yet.
“The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia will not stand idly by and allow our national monuments to be vandalized and destroyed. This Office remains steadfast in its commitment to protect the sacred First Amendment right of individuals to peacefully protest, but these charges should serve as a warning to those who choose to desecrate the statues and monuments that adorn our nation’s capital: your violent behavior and criminal conduct will not be tolerated,” Acting U. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin was quoted as saying in the release.
“The FBI respects the peaceful exercise of First Amendment rights, but we will not allow opportunists to hijack peaceful protests to incite violence and destruction of property,” said James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division. “We will continue to work with our partners to enforce federal laws prohibiting damage to government facilities and property.”
The investigation into the incident was conducted by the US Park Police and the FBI Washington Field Office’s Violent Crime Task Force, with “significant assistance” provided by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
A group of protesters attempted to topple a statue depicting Jackson, the seventh president of the nation, outside the White House on the night of June 22. Police cleared the crowd out of Lafayette Square as they clashed with officers who used pepper spray, rubber bullets and batons to disperse them.
The DOJ encourages everyone who has information on this incident or other criminal acts to contact the FBI at 202-278-2000 or tips.fbi.gov.