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Report: U.S. marshals told to prepare to help protect national monuments

An email has been sent to U.S. marshals notifying them that they should prepare to help protect national monuments, The Washington Post reported Wednesday night.

Marshals Service Assistant Director Andrew C. Smith wrote that the agency "has been asked to immediately prepare to provide federal law enforcement support to protect national monuments (throughout the country)." The email suggests that the assignment came from Attorney General William Barr, the Post reports.

Smith said that this is a "challenging" ask, due to "the breadth of possible targets for criminal activity." Other internal correspondence viewed by the Post indicates there are worries that monuments will be vandalized on or around the 4th of July. It isn't clear what the marshals will be doing exactly, or how many will be part of the operation. Marshals serve under the Department of Justice, and their typical duties include providing security for courthouses and capturing fugitives.

Earlier Wednesday, the Army activated roughly 400 members of the Washington, D.C., National Guard to "prevent any defacing or destruction" of monuments, defense officials said. The troops will be unarmed.

Over the last several weeks, anti-racism protesters have been targeting Confederate monuments across the country, with some being torn down. On Monday, protesters tried to topple a statue of former President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square, across from the White House. The next morning, Trump tweeted that he "authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue, or other such Federal property in the U.S. with up to 10 years in prison, per the Veteran's Memorial Preservation Act, or such other laws that may be pertinent....."