A student appeared in federal court Monday after being charged with damaging a statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square last week, The Washington Post reported Monday.
Connor Matthew Judd, the 20-year-old student, is among four men who were charged with destruction of federal property for damages made to the statue, The Post reported. Court documents show that U.S. Park Police used local television news footage, social media posts, YouTube video and D.C. police body-camera footage to help identify the individuals who damaged and attempted to pull down the statue on June 22, according to The Post.
Park Police Sgt. Carl R. Holmberg wrote in an affidavit that he observed the protest, noting that the “historic cannon carriages at the base of the statue were irreparably damaged, that some parts of the statue were bent and other parts of the statue sustained damage from blunt objects and chemicals.” Homberg said the National Park Service estimated the replacement and repair cost for the statue at $78,000, The Post reported.
The National Park Service did not return a request for comment.
Judd – who was the first of the four men to be arrested because the others as of Monday afternoon had not yet been apprehended – appeared in D.C. Superior Court Saturday and was ordered detained while the case was transferred to federal court, The Post reported. Judd appeared by telephone in federal court Monday, and after hearing Judd was a student, U.S. Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather appointed the federal public defender to represent him, according to The Post.
Meriweather declined federal prosecutors’ request for Judd to wear a GPS monitoring device, and she released him on his own recognizance. A preliminary hearing was set for July 21, The Post reported.
Judd did not return multiple requests for comment.
Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin, Acting Chief of the United States Park Police Gregory T. Monahan and James A. Dawson, the special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division, announced the charges brought by criminal complaint in a press release issued Saturday.
The complaint alleges that Judd, the student, is shown on video trying to pull down the statue while the other three men, and additional unidentified individuals, are seen attempting to pry the statue off its base and pull the statue down with a strap and ropes, according to the release.
“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,” Sherwin said in the release. “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.”
The Department of Justice did not return a request for comment.
Monahan, the chief of the U.S. Park Police, said in the release the agency is “committed” to ensuring citizens can safely exercise their rights and the “deplorable acts of violence and destruction of property are unacceptable and will continue to be pursued through ongoing collaborative investigations and enforcement efforts.”
Dawson, the FBI special agent, echoed Sherwin and Monahan’s statements, stating that the agency will continue to ensure that federal laws, like the prohibition of destruction of property, are upheld.
“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,” Dawson said in the release. “We will continue to work with our partners to enforce federal laws prohibiting damage to government facilities and property.”
A public affairs specialist for the FBI’s Washington field office declined to comment, deferring to the release.