Four men have been charge din federal court for attempting to tear town a statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square amid protests.
Per the DOJ, 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, were charged by criminal complaint yesterday with destruction of federal property, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division James A. Dawson, and Acting Chief of the United States Park Police (USPP) Gregory T. Monahan.
The complaint, unsealed today, alleges that on June 22, 2020, the four men along with other unidentified individuals, damaged and attempted to tear down the statue depicting Andrew Jackson located in Lafayette Square.
The complaint further alleges that Cantrell was 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. The complaint alleges that Judd is seen on video trying to pull down the statue, and that Lane is seen on video affixing a rope to one part of the statue and then pulling on another rope tied to the statue.
The complaint also alleges that video of the incident shows Lloyd as he breaks off and destroys the wheels of cannons located at the base of the statue. Lloyd is also 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.
Judd was arrested on Friday and appeared in Superior Court of the District of Columbia today. The matter will be transferred to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday, June 29, 2020, where Judd will make his initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather. The remaining defendants have not yet been apprehended.
A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct for purposes of establishing probable cause, not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
“The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia will not stand idly by and allow our national monuments to be vandalized and destroyed. This Office remains steadfast in its commitment to protect the sacred First Amendment right of individuals to peacefully protest, but these charges should serve as a warning to those who choose to desecrate the statues and monuments that adorn our nation’s capital: your violent behavior and criminal conduct will not be tolerated,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin.
“The FBI respects the peaceful exercise of First Amendment rights, but we will not allow opportunists to hijack peaceful protests to incite violence and destruction of property,” said James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division. “We will continue to work with our partners to enforce federal laws prohibiting damage to government facilities and property.”
“Members of the United States Park Police are working tirelessly to provide quality law enforcement, safeguard lives, protect our national treasures and symbols of democracy, and preserve the natural and cultural resources entrusted to its service. We are committed to ensuring that citizens are able to freely exercise their constitutional rights in a safe and peaceful manner. The deplorable acts of violence and destruction of property are unacceptable and will continue to be pursued through ongoing collaborative investigations and enforcement efforts,” said Gregory T. Monahan, Acting Chief of the United States Park Police.
In announcing the charges, Acting U.S. Attorney Sherwin, Special Agent in Charge Dawson, and Acting Chief Monahan commended the work of the FBI agents and USPP officers who apprehended the four men and are investigating the incident. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gilead Light, Sara Vanore, and Laura Crane of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
This joint investigation was conducted by the United States Park Police and the FBI Washington Field Office’s Violent Crime Task Force. Significant assistance was also provided by the Washington Metropolitan Police Department. The Violent Crime Task Force is charged with investigating acts of violence impacting the District of Columbia. Tips associated with this matter or other acts of violence can be reported to the FBI at 202-278-2000 or tips.fbi.gov.