Trump on Mount Rushmore: 'This monument will never be desecrated'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE on Friday kicked off his speech at a Fourth of July celebration at Mount Rushmore by vowing that the monument would "never be desecrated."

"This monument will never be desecrated. These heroes will never be disgraced. Their legacy will never, ever be destroyed. Their achievements will never be forgotten," he said. "And Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and our freedom."

The comment comes as local Indigenous leaders and others have called for the monument to be removed, noting it was carved on sacred tribal land. The monument has drawn renewed attention as protesters call for the removal of Confederate statues or monuments that commemorate leaders who supported slavery or racist policies. 

Trump went on to rail against those protesters, calling them "angry mobs" who are "think the American people are weak, soft, and submissive."

Mount Rushmore was previously called ”The Six Grandfathers” by the Lakota Sioux before it was carved with the presidents' faces. It sits on land considered sacred by local tribes and was initially protected for their use until gold was discovered in the area and Indigenous peoples were forced off the land. 

"Nothing stands as a greater reminder to the Great Sioux Nation of a country that cannot keep a promise or treaty than the faces carved into our sacred land on what the United States calls Mount Rushmore,” Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier said in a statement condemning Mount Rushmore and the Trump event.

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