Thursday, Jason Charter was arrested and charged with destruction of federal property. Charters is accused of being what authorities are calling the “ringleader” in an attempt to destroy the statue of Andrew Jackson located in Lafayette statue near the White House.
From Fox News:
Law enforcement sources tell Fox News that Jason Charter was arrested at his residence Thursday morning, without incident, and charged with destruction of federal property. He was arrested by the FBI and U.S. Park Police as part of a joint task force.
These sources add that Charter has connections to Antifa and was in a leadership role on the night of June 22 when a large group of protesters tried to pull down the statue.
“They were very organized,” a federal law enforcement official said. “Charter was on top of the statue and directing people … they had acid, chisels, straps and a human chain preventing police from getting to the statue.”
The FBI’s criminal complaint against Charter attaches screengrabs of local news videos and accuses him of also being involved in the destruction of the Albert Pike Historical Statue in Washington this month.
Citing local news video, the FBI alleges that Charter is seen “standing over the toppled Pike Statue, pouring an unknown liquid onto the statue.”
The complaint said: “He is then observed waving others away from the statue, and squatting down behind the statue where his hands are not visible. Seconds later, the statue catches fire. Charter is seen standing over the flames as it burns.”
Earlier this week, four other men were arrested in connection to the destruction of the statue. From the WaPo:
Court documents show that U.S. Park Police scanned local television news footage, D.C. police body-camera footage, YouTube video, and Facebook and Twitter posts for clues to the identities of those who tried to pull down the statue on June 22. Park Police Sgt. Carl R. Holmberg wrote in an affidavit that he observed the protest and noted that “historic cannon carriages at the base of the statue were irreparably damaged, that some parts of the statue were bent and other parts of the statue sustained damage from blunt objects and chemicals.”
The National Park Service estimated the replacement and repair cost for the statue at $78,000, Holmberg said. The Park Police issued 40 different posters featuring photos of those involved in the protest, hoping to identify the alleged vandals.
Four men were charged with destruction of federal property, which President Trump has noted carries a 10-year maximum prison sentence: Lee Michael Cantrell, 47, of Virginia; Connor Matthew Judd, 20, of the District; Ryan Lane, 37, of Maryland; and Graham Lloyd, 37, of Maine.
Judd was the first to be arrested, on Friday, and authorities said the other three have not yet been apprehended. He appeared in D.C. Superior Court on Saturday and was ordered detained while the case was being transferred to federal court.
The Protecting American Communities Task Force will coordinate assets inside the department in protecting monuments, memorials, statues, and federal facilities.
“DHS is answering the president’s call to use our law enforcement personnel across the country to protect our historic landmarks,” Acting Homeland Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement.
“We won’t stand idly by while violent anarchists and rioters seek not only to vandalize and destroy the symbols of our nation, but to disrupt law and order and sow chaos in our communities.”
Rioters and vandals have increasingly targeted statues and other monuments in recent weeks, including statues of George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant.
DHS’s Office of Coordination will also work closely with teams at the Departments of Justice and Interior to share information and intelligence.
“As we approach the July 4th holiday, I have directed the deployment and pre-positioning of Rapid Deployment Teams (RDT) across the country to respond to potential threats to facilities and property,” Wolf said. “While the department respects every American’s right to protest peacefully, violence and civil unrest will not be tolerated.”
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