WASHINGTON – Jason Charter, 25, of Washington, D.C., was arrested and charged by Criminal Complaint today with destruction of federal property, announced Michael R. Sherwin, Acting U.S. Attorney; James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the Criminal Division of the Washington Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and Gregory T. Monahan, Acting Chief of the United States Park Police (USPP).
The complaint alleges that on June 20, 2020, Charter, together with other individuals, destroyed the Albert Pike statue in Northwest, Washington, D.C., by pulling it from its base and setting it on fire. The complaint alleges that Charter was captured on video dousing the statue with a flammable liquid and then igniting it as it lay on the ground. Charter is depicted on video using the fire to light a cigarette.
The complaint further alleges that on June 22, 2020, Charter, together with other individuals, damaged and attempted to tear down the statue depicting Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans, located in Lafayette Square. The complaint further alleges that Charter was captured on video climbing up onto the statue and affixing a rope to the statue that was then used to try to pull the statue down. Three other men were previously charged with also destroying the Jackson statue.
The defendant appeared today before United States Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, where he was released pending further court proceedings. A Criminal Complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct for purposes of establishing probable cause, not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
“While the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is committed to protecting the First Amendment right of individuals to protest peacefully, today’s additional arrest in connection with the violent destruction of federal property is a testament to our further commitment to prosecuting those criminal offenders who threaten not only property, but ultimately the safety of all through their violent acts,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin.
“These individuals chose to engage in unlawful activity while among fellow citizens who were conducting lawful and Constitutionally protected protest activities,” said James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division. “The FBI is dedicated to protecting peaceful protesters from those threatening their safety with violence and destruction of property, and where there is a federal nexus, we will investigate and hold the wrongdoers accountable.”
“This arrest is an example of excellent investigative work by the United States Park Police Criminal Investigations and the continued partnership with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The U.S. Park Police remains committed to protecting our icons, memorials, and park resources” said United States Park Police Acting Chief Gregory T. Monahan.
In announcing the charges, Acting U.S. Attorney Sherwin, Special Agent in Charge Dawson, and Acting Chief Monahan commended the work of the FBI agents and USPP officers who apprehended the four men and are investigating the incident. This joint investigation was conducted by the United States Park Police and the FBI Washington Field Office’s Violent Crime Task Force. Significant assistance was also provided by the Washington Metropolitan Police Department. The Violent Crime Task Force is charged with investigating acts of violence impacting the District of Columbia. Tips associated with this matter or other acts of violence can be reported to the FBI at 202-278-2000 or tips.fbi.gov.