National Guardsmen Stand Sentry At Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is sacred ground for America’s civil rights movement.

In 1939, after the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow a black singer to perform, Eleanor Roosevelt helped arrange a performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday. More than 75,000 people attended the show, which was broadcast live nationwide on radio.

In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech from the steps of the Memorial, with the 19-foot statue of Abraham Lincoln towering behind him. More than 250,000 people packed the National Mall.

But the Memorial, honoring the president who issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, was defaced over the weekend, with vandals spray-painting “Yall not tired yet?” beside the entrance steps.

That won’t be happening again any time soon.

On Tuesday night, dozens of National Guardsmen and federal police officers in bullet-proof vests lined the steps atop the Lincoln Memorial, facing off with a large gathering of protesters.

President Donald Trump on Monday activated all members of the D.C. National Guard to protect memorials and monuments in America’s capital, as well as to stem further violence from protesters and looters.

“I am taking immediate presidential action to stop the violence and restore security and safety in America,” Trump said in a White House Rose Garden speech. “I am mobilizing all available federal resources — civilian and military — to stop the rioting and looting, to end the destruction and arson, and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your Second Amendment rights.”

“I am also taking swift and decisive action to protect our great capital, Washington, D.C.,” he continued. “What happened in this city last night was a total disgrace. As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property.”

Rioters on Sunday night rampaged across the nation’s capital, defacing monuments and memorials and setting fire to St. John’s Episcopal Church, known as the church of presidents because of its proximity to the White House. The church, built in 1816 and located just across Lafayette Square, has been visited by every president from James Madison on. Lincoln prayed in the church shortly before the end of the Civil War.

Fires raged across Washington, D.C., and several other national monuments, including the Lincoln Memorial, were defaced by rioters. “In the wake of last night’s demonstrations, there are numerous instances of vandalism to sites around the National Mall,” the National Park Service (NPS) for the National Mall said in a tweet on Sunday.

The World War II Memorial was also defaced, with someone scrawling “Do black vets count?”

All the graffiti was removed.

Nationwide, protesters demanded justice for George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died after a police officer arresting him for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes on May 25. Videos shot by bystanders shows white Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, even as Floyd repeatedly said he could not breathe. Three other officers are seen nearby, but none took action.

Washington, D.C., enacted a 7 p.m. curfew after several nights of violent protest and looting.

And more troops are on the way, just in case. “Troops from Indiana, South Carolina and Tennessee were expected to arrive by Tuesday night in the capital. Maryland and Ohio have also sent troops to the District. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said that he refused the Pentagon’s request,” The Hill reported.

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