Following last year’s deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Donald Trump has put millions of dollars toward security measures for the nation’s Confederate cemeteries, according to a recent Associated Press report.
> The Department of Veterans Affairs has spent over $3 million on round-the-clock security at eight Confederate cemeteries since 2017, according to financial records obtained by the Associated Press.
> The documents also show that the department has already budgeted another $1.6 million for the 2019 fiscal year to pay for security at all Confederate monuments, which may include additional locations around the nation. There is no indication on how long the administration plans to keep paying to protect the graveyards and monuments.
The VA has a “responsibility to protect the federal property it administers and will continue to monitor and assess the need for enhanced security going forward,” a department spokesperson told the AP.
Newsweek noted that most of the cemetery sites are in northern parts of the United States, such as New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Illinois.
Confederate soldiers buried in these areas died while prisoners of war in the north.
The most recent vandalism occurred more than a year ago in August 2017 at the Springfield National Cemetery in Missouri: someone threw paint on a 117-year-old Confederate memorial ahead of Trump’s visit for a speech.
> Since then, the security measures have been offered in 30-day contracts, which cost about $91,000 each. There has not been another vandalism incident reported at any of the eight cemetery sites since that of Springfield National Cemetery over a year ago.
National debate over Confederate monuments was rekindled in 2017 when white supremacists marched in Charlottesville to protest the removal a General Robert E. Lee statue during what became a violent event.
> The violent clash between white supremacists and counterprotesters lead to the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Heyer was killed when white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters.
> Trump responded to the tragic events by saying that there was “blame” to be placed on “both sides.” The president has repeatedly defended Confederate monuments and urged them not to be taken down. He once tweeted that “the beauty that is being taken out of cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!”