Is Mount Rushmore Next? South Dakota Governor Says 'Not on My Watch'

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem vowed to protect Mount Rushmore as monuments and statues of figures associated with slavery continued to come down across the country.

Gov. Noem made the promise in response to a question posted on Twitter by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.

"So, when is our woke historical revisionist priesthood going to insist on blowing up Mount Rushmore?" Shapiro wrote. "Not on my watch," Noem, a Republican, replied on Tuesday.

The faces of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln are carved on the mountain in the Black Hills region.

"There has been widespread chatter on social media about defacing or destroying Mount Rushmore," a spokesman for the governor's office told Newsweek.

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Monuments to figures associated with slavery have come under fire amid ongoing protests against racism sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis police custody last month.

Across the country, protesters have toppled or defaced Confederate monuments in the South as well as those of other controversial figures, including Christopher Columbus.

This week, a statue of Washington was vandalized in Baltimore's Druid Hill Park with red paint. "Destroy Racists" was also graffitied at the base of the monument to the nation's first president, who owned slaves.

In some cities, officials have chosen to pull down offensive statues and monuments amid the nationwide reckoning.

On Tuesday, officials voted unanimously Tuesday to remove the statue of former vice president ad slavery advocate John C. Calhoun from a square in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.

Earlier this week, it emerged that a controversial statue of Roosevelt, depicted atop a horse flanked by a Native American and an African man, would be removed from its station at the entrance of American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The museum said it was the statue's "hierarchical" composition that was being objected to, but critics have long decried Roosevelt as a racist who believed African Americans were inferior to white people.

On the decision to remove the statue, President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter: "Ridiculous, don't do it!"

Trump has repeatedly criticized the removal of Confederate statues in the South, previously warning that it would lead in turn, to the removal of monuments to Washington and Jefferson because both Founding Fathers had owned slaves.

After protesters on Monday attempted to topple a statue of former President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square, located near the White House in Washington, D.C., Trump vowed on Twitter to throw perpetrators in prison for up to 10 years.

"I have 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," he tweeted.

"This action is taken effective immediately, but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused. There will be no exceptions!"

Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore National Memorial on April 23, 2020, in Keystone, South Dakota. Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images
Is Mount Rushmore Next? South Dakota Governor Says 'Not on My Watch' | U.S.