A statue of Andrew Jackson near the White House was the target of hundreds of protesters Monday night who tried to topple the bust by declaring off-limits an area dubbed the “Black House Autonomous Zone.”
As chants of “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Andrew Jackson’s got to go” were heard, police intervened using a chemical irritant to disperse the crowd that threw objects at the officers.
At about the same time, the Secret Service made reporters leave the White House grounds for reasons that weren’t clear.
Jackson, who served as the seventh U.S. president from 1829 to 1837 and was a slave owner, is among the latest historical figure targeted by protesters demanding the removal of monuments and memorials to those with racist pasts.
President Trump later took to Twitter to rail against the “disgraceful vandalism” of “the magnificent statue of Andrew Jackson” and the nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was spray-painted with the letters “BHAZ.”
The president threatened vandals with 10 years in prison under the Veterans’ Memorial Preservation Act.
“There will never be an ‘Autonomous Zone’ in Washington, D.C., as long as I’m your President,” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. “If they try they will be met with serious force!”