A man described as the leader of a group of demonstrators who attempted to take down a statue of former President Andrew Jackson last month has been arrested.
Citing federal law enforcement officials who called him the “ringleader” of the attack, Fox News reported that Jason Charter was arrested Thursday morning, and is being charged with destruction of federal property.
Charter was identified and arrested at his home by a joint task force of officers from both the FBI and U.S. Park Police.
Anonymous law enforcement sources told Fox that Charter is connected to the left-wing coalition of so-called “anti-fascist” protesters commonly known as antifa, and that he was present on June 22 when a group of rioters attempted to topple the Jackson statue in Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Park.
Four other men have already been charged in relation to the attack on the monument.
The attack was coordinated, one federal law enforcement official told Fox.
“They were very organized,” the official said. “Charter was on top of the statue and directing people. … They had acid, chisels, straps and a human chain preventing police from getting to the statue.”
The FBI apparently identified Charter by using videos taken by local news outlets.
Charter was “standing over the toppled Pike Statue, pouring an unknown liquid onto the statue,” the criminal complaint against him reads.
“He is then observed waving others away from the statue, and squatting down behind the statue where his hands are not visible. Seconds later, the statue catches fire. Charter is seen standing over the flames as it burns.”
With regard to the incident involving the statue of Jackson, the FBI’s complaint added: “Charter is additionally seen wearing a red set of ski goggles and a yellow ventilator mask. Charter’s face is clearly visible at different times during each incident.”
BREAKING: Feds charge Washington DC man with destruction of Albert Pike statue last month.. $250,000 damage, per US Attorney’s office pic.twitter.com/9tKXxwQkHm
— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) July 2, 2020
Charter is further accused of assaulting a person at a demonstration on June 26 where a group called for the toppling of a statue of former President Abraham Lincoln at Washington’s Lincoln Park.
Fox News reported Charter was slated to appear in front of a U.S. District Court judge virtually in Washington on Thursday.
Roughly 200 people were involved in attempting to topple the Jackson statue on June 22, according to WTOP.
George Washington University student Connor Judd, 20, was identified by authorities using local media and police body camera footage.
Judd, who is from D.C., is charged with destruction of federal property, along with three other men.
According to the Justice Department, Lee Michael Cantrell, 47, of Virginia; Ryan Lane, 37, of Maryland; and Graham Lloyd, 37, of Maine, are also being charged for the Lafayette Park incident.
Four Men Charged in Federal Court for Attempting to Tear Down Statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square Amid Protests https://t.co/bGGyPzaH5S
— U.S. Attorney DC (@USAO_DC) June 28, 2020
“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,” James A. Dawson, special agent in charge of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division, said in a statement. “We will continue to work with our partners to enforce federal laws prohibiting damage to government facilities and property.”
President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week vowing to charge those who are attacking monuments to the fullest extent of the law.
“They’re tearing down statues, desecrating monuments, and purging dissenters. It’s not the behavior of a peaceful political movement; it’s the behavior of totalitarians and tyrants and people that don’t love our country,” Trump said in a statement.
The White House noted in a media release that current law “authorizes a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment for the willful injury of Federal property.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.