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Trump Calls for Arrests as Protesters Topple, Burn DC Statue

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Protesters on Friday toppled the only statue of a Confederate general in the nation’s capital and proceeded to set it on fire.

The crowd of protesters cheered as the 11-foot statue of Albert Pike wobbled on its high granite pedestal before falling backward.

Protesters then lit a bonfire and stood around it in a circle as the statue burned, chanting, “No justice, no peace!” and “No racist police!”

Police were on the scene but didn’t intervene.

President Donald Trump tweeted about the toppling, calling out D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and writing: “The DC police are not doing their job as they watched a statue be ripped down and burn. These people should be immediately arrested. A disgrace to our Country!”

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The Pike statue has been a source of controversy for years. The former Confederate general was also a longtime influential leader of the Freemasons, who revere Pike and who paid for the statue.

Pike was a poet and lawyer in Arkansas, representing many Native American tribes and securing payment for lands taken from them by the federal government.

Should police have stopped the protesters from toppling the statue?

His body is interred at the D.C. headquarters of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, which also contains a small museum in his honor.

The statue, dedicated in 1901, was located in Judiciary Square about half a mile from the U.S. Capitol.

It was built at the request of Masons who successfully lobbied Congress to grant them land for the statue as long as Pike would be depicted in civilian, not military, clothing.

Civil rights activists and some local government officials had campaigned for years to get the statue taken down but needed the federal government’s approval to do so.

“Ever since 1992, members of the DC Council have been calling on the federal gov’t to remove the statue of Confederate Albert Pike (a federal memorial on federal land). We unanimously renewed our call to Congress to remove it in 2017,” the D.C. Council tweeted Friday.

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A proposed resolution calling for the removal of the statue referred to Pike as a “chief founder of the post-Civil War Ku Klux Klan.”

The Klan connection is a frequent accusation from Pike’s critics and one which the Masons dispute.

Statues of historic figures around the world have been torn down in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.


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