WASHINGTON - A tweet by president Donald Trump vowing that "There will never be an 'Autonomous Zone' in Washington, D.C.," was flagged on Twitter for violating the company's "abusive behavior" guidelines.
Trump’s tweet follows weeks of continuous protests condemning police brutality since the death of several unarmed Black civilians during encounters with law enforcement, and appears to be a direct response to an incident in which demonstrators attempted to deface and topple a statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square near the White House.
It was reported by FOX News that protesters had blocked off an area that they called the "Black House Autonomous Zone," or "BHAZ."
In his tweet, the president threatened anyone who attempted to establish an “autonomous zone” in the nation’s capital with “serious force.”
A disclaimer can be seen above Trump’s tweet which indicates that it “violated the Twitter Rules about abusive behavior.”
Earlier on Tuesday morning, Trump also said he had authorized the arrest of anyone caught vandalizing or destroying monuments, statues or other such federal property in the U.S.
He claimed violators could face up to a decade in prison, in accordance with the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act.
Trump’s announcement comes as Seattle’s mayor said the city will move to wind down an “occupied” protest zone following two recent shootings, including one that left a man dead.
Protesters in Seattle had carved out the "Capitol Hill Organized Protest," or "CHOP" zone in the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood more than two weeks ago.
The “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” participants have painted a Black Lives Matter mural on the street, planted a community garden and handed out food in an atmosphere that has been largely peaceful and festive at times.
The situation has drawn the ire of Trump, who has claimed without merit that violent people had taken over. His tweets about possibly sending in the military have been met with condemnation from Mayor Durkan and Gov. Jay Inslee, both Democrats.
Andre Taylor, who founded of the anti-police-shooting organization Not This Time! after his brother was killed by Seattle police in 2016, said Monday that he had warned protest organizers that the city would need to retake the area because of the violence.
“That CHOP area is attracting this kind of activity and it's unsafe,” Taylor said in a Facebook video. “I told them, 'All those people that were supporting you guys, they're going to start walking away from you, especially all those white people that were following you... They don't want to be associated with any part of that violence.”
Former U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, a Republican who previously served as sheriff in the county where Seattle is located, also called on the city to take back control.
“Elected officials have abandoned the rule of law and their oath to protect and defend our communities,” he wrote in an opinion piece for Washington State Wire, a website devoted to state political news. “They have abandoned their law-abiding citizens and have been cowardly bullied into surrendering the East Precinct – and multiple city blocks.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.