KEYSTONE, S.D. — Amid a campaign to take down statues across the country that has moved quickly from targeting monuments of Confederate generals to those of former presidents, South Dakota’s governor is promising that the famed Mount Rushmore will not be next.
“Not on my watch,” tweeted South Dakota GOP Gov. Kristi Noem after conservative commentator Ben Shapiro quipped that the chiseled faces of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln could be the next target of the “woke historical revisionist priesthood.”
There’s no indication yet of any serious push against the towering monument and tourist attraction in the Black Hills of South Dakota. But the figures depicted have had their likenesses targeted elsewhere.
Groups began ripping down and defacing statues in the wake of the protests that emerged after the death of George Floyd in police custody. While those protests initially focused on racism and police brutality, it has escalated into a new phase.
While initially aimed at Confederate leaders and generals, the anti-statue push has turned fire on other historical figures.
On Thursday, demonstrators in Portland, Ore., toppled a statue of President George Washington. Friday, protesters in San Francisco defaced and toppled the statue of former President Ulysses S. Grant, who led the Union Army during the Civil War.
On Monday, there was an attempt to take down a statue of Andrew Jackson in Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Square near the White House.
President Trump on Tuesday warned that those involved could be jailed for up to 10 years.
“I have authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the U.S. with up to 10 years in prison, per the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act, or such other laws that may be pertinent,” Trump tweeted. “This action is taken effective immediately, but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused.
“There will be no exceptions!”
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.