The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested Jason Carter, the alleged ringleader of anarchist group Antifa on Thursday, on charges of attempting to destroy a statue of Andrew Jackson on June 22. He is also accused of damaging the Albert Pike Historical Statue. Both the statues are in Washington and Carter has been charged with destroying federal property.
The arrest comes after President Donald Trump pushed the FBI to investigate the series of attacks on historical monuments across the United States. The incidents were part of nationwide demonstrations that saw protesters pulling down statues of prominent personalities who were once slaveholders.
Surveillance Footage Leads to Arrest
Carter was booked on Thursday by the Federal authorities for vandalizing two statues in Washington D.C. Carter, with a group of people, allegedly tried to destroy the Albert Pike Historical Statue in Washington on June 20. The FBI said that he even lit a cigarette in the flame engulfing the monument. The second incident was of attempting to pull down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square near the White House on June 22.
The FBI has mentioned that Carter was arrested on the basis of open-source surveillance footage and interagency co-operation. In one interesting revelation, the document mentions that a Washington D.C. police officer, who had once given Carter a friendly ride, identified him after watching the footage.
Carter, in the video footage procured by FBI, is seen entering a Lafayette Park wearing a "white face mask and ski goggles and sporting an armband on his right arm, holding a walking cane". He also had a Swiss Gear logo backpack. Carter is next seen up onto the statue and asking people on the ground for ropes.
Similarly, he was also spotted on June 20 standing over the toppled statue and pouring liquid from a bottle on it. Moments later the statue catches fire and Carter is seen removing his face mask and lighting a cigarette from the flames.
According to some federal law enforcement officials, Carter is connected with Antifa and was leading the protesters and instigating them to pull down the statue on the night of June 22. "They were very organized," a federal law enforcement 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."
FBI's suspicion about Carter having Antifa links comes after following his twitter account. In fact on June 20, after destroying the Pike Statue, he posted an image and tweeted: 'Tearing down statues of traitors to the nation is a service to this nation not a crime.'
Carter's arrest comes days after Trump signed an executive order to protect monuments, memorials, and statues following the series of attacks on monuments of historical figures across the country. An estimated $250,000 will be required to repair the Pike statue, including removing graffiti and restoring its burned façade, while the Jackson statue has been damaged beyond repair. If proved guilty, Carter could end up serving years in prison for damaging national property of historical value.