Protesters have attempted to pull down a statue of former US president Andrew Jackson near the White House before being dispersed by police.
WUSA-TV in Washington reported on Monday night that police used pepper spray to move protesters out of Lafayette Square, where the Jackson statue is located.
Videos posted on social media showed that the protesters had climbed onto the statue and tied ropes around it, before trying to pull it off its pedestal.
The 19th century president’s ruthless treatment of Native Americans has made his statue a target for demonstrators protesting against the United States’ legacy of racial injustice.
The Jackson statue remained on its pedestal Monday night.
US president Donald Trump tweeted late on Monday that “numerous people” had been arrested for “the disgraceful vandalism”.
He added: “10 years in prison under the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act. Beware!”
US interior secretary David Bernhardt issued a statement, saying: “Let me be clear: We will not bow to anarchists. Law and order will prevail, and justice will be served.”
On June 1, law enforcement officers forcefully cleared peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square in order for Mr Trump to stage a photo op at a nearby church.
He tweeted: “I have authorised the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalises or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the US with up to 10 years in prison, per the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act, or such other laws that may be pertinent……….This action is taken effective immediately, but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused.
“There will be no exceptions!”