U.S. Marshals have been told to prepare to protect national monuments as protests against police brutality continue to target statues across the country, according to an email directive from President Trump obtained by the Washington Post.
Marshals Assistant Director Andrew Smith wrote in the email that the organization "has been asked to immediately prepare to provide federal law enforcement support to protect national monuments (throughout the country)."
"This is a challenging assignment due to the breadth of possible targets for criminal activity," Smith wrote.
Smith said the Marshals Incident Management Team would start a Joint Operations Center in Springfield, Virginia, and that every deputy in the Special Operations Group would be available by Thursday. He also asked other districts to identify people who could help with the effort until July 8.
The directive follows Trump saying earlier this week that he had authorized the federal government to "arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument."
It is not yet clear how many Marshals would be involved or exactly what they would be doing. The Marshals normally provide security for courthouses, transport prisoners, apprehend fugitives, and protect witnesses.
"We don't confirm or deny any enforcement actions that we might take," a spokesperson for the Marshals said on Wednesday.