Protesters tried to tear down a statue of Andrew Jackson in a park near the White House Monday night but were met with officers in riot gear who used pepper spray against them.
Demonstrators were able to scale the bronze statue in Lafayette Square and wrap ropes around it, chanting “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Andrew Jackson’s got to go.”
U.S. Park Police officers with batons and protective shields moved the crowd back. The federal law enforcement officers used pepper spray, the National Park Service confirmed. Many demonstrators frantically tried to clear their eyes of the irritant. There were reports that rubber bullets were fired at least once.
Some demonstrators remained near the White House overnight. Crews installed concrete barriers near Black Lives Matter Plaza early Tuesday, replacing plastic barricades as officials prepare for the possibility of another move against the statue.
Also early Tuesday, President Donald Trump said anyone who vandalizes a monument on federal land can be arrested and face as much as 10 years in prison.
Graffiti on plywood in the area said “Black House Autonomous Zone” and “BHAZ The Fight for Black Lives/Futures,” in apparent references to the so-called Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone that protesters have created in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.'s non-voting representation in Congress, told News4 she agrees the Andrew Jackson statue should be moved. She wants it put in a museum and presented with historical context.
"I agree with them that that statue should go, especially being publicly placed in Lafayette Square. I summarily don't condone pulling down statues," she said.
Those who want the statue removed cite that Jackson owned scores of enslaved people and signed into law the Indian Removal Act, which forced thousands of Native Americans from their tribal lands.
Earlier Monday evening, four D.C. police officers were hurt while trying to clear tents near Lafayette Square, police said.
A large group of demonstrators set up the tents along the 1400 block of H Street NW. Some tents blocked streets.
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Some protesters threw objects at officers while they tried to remove the tents, police said. Two people were arrested. Police have not identified them or said if they were charged.
The officers' injuries were not serious, police said.
Stay with News4 and NBCWashington.com for updates to this developing story.