Two men were caught on camera throwing paint-filled water balloons at the iconic arch at Washington Square Park.
Splashes of red paint were seen on two statues of George Washington that have been a fixture at the Lower Manhattan park since the early 1900s. Police say the incident occurred early Monday morning.
President Donald Trump involved himself in the incident, calling for the "Anarchists" to turn themselves in and to face federal charges. Trump tweeted last week he had “authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the U.S.”
Trump also signed an executive order saying his administration would “not allow violent mobs incited by a radical fringe to become the arbiters of the aspects of our history that can be celebrated in public spaces.” The order called for the government to prosecute such vandals “to the fullest extent permitted under federal law.”
Federal prosecutors in New York similarly have cracked down on people accused of firebombing police vehicles amid the unrest that followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Two Brooklyn attorneys were recently hit with charges that could put them in prison for nearly 50 years for torching an empty New York City police vehicle last month.
The statues of the 1st U.S. President have been vandalized multiple times especially since the start of citywide protests against police brutality and racial injustice. Protesters around the country have been calling for the removal of statues and symbols that celebrate the country's racist past.
Last week, someone wrote “slave owner” on a statue of Washington in Union Square Park, the NY Post reported.
City workers have already cleaned up the paint left on the statues, according to the outlet.