At Rushmore, Trump says protesters seek to 'defame' heroes

Henrietta Strickland
July 4, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump planned a fiery speech at Mount Rushmore Friday night, including denunciations of protesters he says are trying to "tear down" the nation's history.

He added the condemnation of those who pull down statues to a big fireworks show and his more traditional July Fourth praise of America's past and values.

In the nationwide unrest following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, protesters in several cities have vandalized the statues of Confederate generals that led a rebellion against the United States government during an 1861-65 civil war.

Native American protesters were arrested after blocking a road to the South Dakota landmark, according to video on social media.

Trump and first lady Melania was greeted by the crowd with chants of 'Four more years!' and cheered enthusiastically as they took the stage in Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Police and National Guard soldiers moved in, and a standoff ensued, with police using pepper spray on several protesters. "First, a lot of the statues that have been targeted by anti-racism protesters were in fact then removed by local governments".

"My bill would make it clear that not one American nickel would go toward changing the name of Mount Rushmore or blasting off or altering those faces".

The executive order released Friday by the White House says the garden will feature statues of several presidents as well as other historic notables, including Davy Crockett, Amelia Earhart, Billy Graham, Harriet Tubman and Orville and Wilbur Wright. The land around Mount Rushmore is sacred to the Lakota Sioux, who lived in the area before gold was discovered by prospectors.

The pre-July 4 holiday event drew 7,500 people, packed into an outdoor amphitheatre.

The event drew an estimated 7,500 people, packed tightly into an amphitheater beneath the famed landmark that depicts the images of US presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

Once sacred Lakota tribal territory, the site was occupied by a group of Native American protesters in the 1970s. Both Guilfoyle and Trump Jr., who serves as a top surrogate for the president, are isolating themselves and have canceled public events, according to Sergio Gor, chief of staff to the Trump campaign's finance committee.

Enthusiastic attendees were unlikely to disqualify themselves 'because they developed a cough the day of or the day before, ' Mayor Steve Allender said.

The President will arrive in South Dakota on Friday (US time) where there will be a fireworks display at the monument. "Despite Neil's differing political views, Mr Trump likes Neil very much".

With the pandemic having already killed over 120,000 Americans, Trump has been blasted for refusing to wear face masks, promoting theories on the virus' origins, and upcoming cures, as well as calling for a speedy economic reopening.
He also was sporting a handgun on each hip.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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