Donald Trump has said that black people who want statues of slave owners and Confederate figures removing should ‘learn from the history’ or risk ‘going to go back to it sometime’.
Calls to remove statues of Confederate figures and those connected to slavery have been mounting in recent weeks in the wake of global Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Protesters have either defaced or caused destruction on dozens of statues
But Donald Trump has urged protesters to think again – particularly black Americans who want of the country’s slave-owning founders removed – and claimed ‘we should learn from the history’.
Speaking to Fox News on Sunday night, the President said: ‘My message is that we have a great country, we have the greatest country on Earth.
Donald Trump on Sunday evening discussed statues of slave holders and Confederate leaders
Trump told Brian Kilmeade that the U.S. has ‘a great history’ that should not be forgotten
‘We have a heritage, we have a history and we should learn from the history, and if you don’t understand your history, you will go back to it again. You will go right back to it. You have to learn.
‘Think of it, you take away that whole era and you’re going to go back to it sometime. People won’t know about it. They’re going to forget about it. It’s okay.’
Trump said that he had been upset about questioning of George Washington’s legacy.
He added: ‘You have to understand history, and our culture, and so many other aspects. But you can’t take down George Washington.’
He said that some people want to take down Lincoln, Jefferson and Ulysses S. Grant.
‘Here is the other problem that I have — a lot of these people don’t even know what they are taking down,’ he said.
‘I see what’s happening on television, and they are ripping down things they have no idea what they are ripping down, but they started off with the Confederates and now go to Ulysses Grant so what is that all about?’
Grant beat the Confederates and ended the Civil War before becoming president, but also married into a family that owned slaves.
Trump said he was open to the idea of erecting new statues ‘to great people; people that have done something.’
He added: ‘But you don’t want to take away our heritage and history and the beauty, in many cases, the beauty, the artistic beauty.
‘Some of the sculptures and some of this work is some of the great — you can go to France, you can go anywhere in the world and you will never see more magnificent work.
‘And that’s a factor. It’s not the biggest factor but it’s a factor.’
Protesters on Monday evening attempted to topple the statue of Andrew Jackson
Confederate States President Jefferson Davis lies on the street after protesters pulled his statue down in Richmond, Virginia, on June 10
A statue of Christopher Columbus is in the water at Byrd Park in Richmond on June 9
Trump has made protecting statues a high-profile policy priority, repeatedly tweeting his anger at attempts to remove the monuments.
On Friday Trump signed an executive order aimed at protecting monuments and statues, making the issue a priority for the Justice Department.
‘I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials and Statues – and combating recent Criminal Violence,’ Trump announced on Twitter.
‘Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country.’
Trump has long derided efforts to bring down monuments, often calling them ‘foolish.’
‘I think many of the people that are knocking down the statues don’t even have any idea what the statue is, what it means, who it is when they knocked down,’ he said on Wednesday.
‘Now they are looking at Jesus Christ, they are looking at George Washington, they’re looking at Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson.
‘Not going to happen, not going to happen while I’m here.’
Trump boasted Sunday morning that no more statues or monuments were defaced this weekend because he signed the executive order.
‘Since imposing a very powerful 10 year prison sentence on those that Vandalize Monuments, Statues etc., with many people being arrested all over our Country, the Vandalism has completely stopped. Thank you!’ he lauded.
Donald Trump tweeted a series of ‘wanted’ posters seeking information about vandals
The posters asked anyone who knew those pictured to inform the authorities
The president on Friday signed an executive order aimed at protecting statues
On Saturday he tweeted 15 ‘wanted’ posters for those involved in efforts last week to topple Andrew Jackson’s bronze likeness outside the White House.
Jackson, the seventh president, was a populist who admirers say reformed Washington DC. He is a hero of Trump’s, and Trump chose his portrait to hang in the Oval Office.
Jackson’s detractors point out that he was a slave owner who championed the ‘Trail of Tears’ policy of forcing Native Americans west of the Mississippi.
Trump boasted that his executive order imposing 10-year sentences for vandals to monuments has stopped the crimes ‘completely’
Four men have so far been charged with destruction of federal property in connection with their alleged effort to tear down the Jackson statue in Lafayette Square on June 22.
The bronze statue has stood there since 1853.
The four are Lee Michael Cantrell, 47, of Virginia; Connor Matthew Judd, 20, of Washington, D.C.; Ryan Lane, 37, of Maryland; and Graham Lloyd, 37, of Maine.
Judd was arrested on Friday and appeared in Superior Court of the District of Columbia on Saturday.
The complaint, which was unsealed Saturday, states that on June 22, the four men participated in damaging the statue alongside other protesters, while also being captured on video ‘attempting to pry the statue off its base with a wooden board and trying to pull the statue down with the aid of a yellow strap.’
It also claims there is video evidence showing ‘Lloyd as he breaks off and destroys the wheels of cannons located at the base of the statue.’
The document states: ‘Lloyd is then captured on video pulling on ropes in an effort to topple the statue and handing a hammer to an unidentified individual involved in the incident.’
Trump’s latest interview comes on his return to Washington following a golfing trip to Virginia this weekend.
The president’s motorcade was seen snaking in to the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, just outside of DC late Saturday morning.
According to CNN, the golfing expedition was the 271st of Trump’s presidency.
On Friday night, the Commander-in-chief tweeted that he would be postponing a visit to his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey amid anti-police protests that have roiled the nation’s capital.
He instead opted for the Virginia course, which is closer to his White House home, and left Sunday.
That same day, Trump was forced to deleted a post where he shared a video of senior citizens clashing over their support and opposition of him where one pro-Trump protester could be heard yelling ‘white power.’
The White House claimed the president didn’t hear the ‘white power’ comment and was instead focused on the support he was witnessing from citizens of the Florida senior community.
‘He did not hear the one statement made on the video,’ White House spokesman Judd Deere told NBC News. ‘What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters.’
Donald Trump posted a video Sunday morning – and subsequently deleted the tweet – of senior citizen supporters clashing with senior citizen counter protesters in The Village age-restricted community in Florida
‘White Power’: One Trump supporter in the golf cart parade yelled ‘white power’ about eight seconds into the video as he held up a fist at senior-citizen counter protesters by the side of the road
A particularly passionate counter protesters (here in black), stepped in front of some golf carts and called the supporters ‘Nazis’ and ‘terrorists’
The ‘white power’ comments is shouted just eight seconds into the video.
The golf-carts full of supporters paraded as the country continues in its second month of unrest as confrontations ensue between civil rights protesters and law enforcements.
The video was posted to Twitter by another user on Saturday and shows two-minutes of clashes between citizens of The Villages, a massive age-restricted community in Sumter, Florida, between pro-Trump demonstrators and senior counter protesters denouncing the president.
‘Thank you to the great people of The Villages,’ Trump posted Sunday alongside the video. ‘The Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats will Fall in the Fall. Corrupt Joe is shot. See you soon!!!’
He has now taken the post down.
Toward the beginning of the video, one senior citizen protesting for Trump yells ‘White Power,’ as he golf-cart passenger chants ‘Trump.’
‘There you go, white power. Did you hear that?’ a counter protester standing by the side of the procession responded in awe.
He deleted the tweet after outcry on social media – including from those within his own party.