Homeland Security Task Force to Protect Monuments, Federal Facilities

July 1, 2020 Updated: July 1, 2020

A new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) task force will focus on protecting statues and other monuments across the country.

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.

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Vandals attempt to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square near the White House on June 22, 2020. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump last month issued an executive order on June 26 that directs DHS to provide, as consistent with applicable law, personnel to help protect federal monuments, memorials, statues, and property.

That portion of the order led to the creation of the new task force.

Wolf said the group will conduct ongoing assessments of potential civil unrest or destruction and allocate resources to protect people and property.

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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People stand around the statue of Confederate general Albert Pike after it was toppled by vandals in Washington on June 19, 2020. (Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images)

Attorney General William Barr, who heads the Department of Justice, announced last month a separate task force that aims to stop “violent anti-government extremists of all persuasions.”

“Some pretend to profess a message of freedom and progress, but they are in fact forces of anarchy, destruction, and coercion,” Barr wrote in a memo his agency released to the public.

The task force is focused on developing detailed information about extremists, with plans to share the information with federal, state, and local law enforcement.

The group is also looking to train and identify resources to help law enforcement at all levels uncover evidence of violent acts perpetrated by the “anti-government extremists,” such as people who support the so-called Boogaloo movement and those who self-identify as members of the far-left Antifa network.

Barr said the task force’s ultimate goal was to understand the extremist groups well enough to stop violence before it occurs.

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