Published: Wed, June 28, 2017
National | By Rosalie Gross

Arkansas' new Ten Commandments monument at Capitol destroyed

Arkansas' new Ten Commandments monument at Capitol destroyed

A man who drove into the Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma State Capitol has allegedly done the same thing in a neighboring state.

According to authorities, 32-year-old Michael Tate Reed drove through the statue around 4:47 a.m. on Wednesday while filming on his cell phone and posting it to Facebook.

Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, who sponsored the 2015 law to erect the monument on state grounds, called the statue's destruction "an act of violence" and said he expects to be able to raise funds quickly to replace the display.

In less than 24 hours after the installation of the monument, someone destroyed the display by knocking it down, breaking chunks of granite off, KARK reported.

Rapert signed the law, Act S1231, that required the stone be built somewhere on the state capitol.

An extremely similar incident happened at the Oklahoma Capitol in 2014: A man drove his auto into a Ten Commandments monument, shattering it.

Sklar says the Ten Commandments monument does what she believes Rapert and others intend: to assert "that Christianity in part has some special place in American tradition, has a higher place, has a more important role".

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The monument was paid for by more than $26,000 in private donations. That driver was identified as Michael Tate Reed of Van Buren, Arkansas.

Reed has been charged with defacing objects of public interest, criminal trespass and first degree criminal mischief.

Almost three years ago, a Ten Commandments monument at Oklahoma's Capitol met a similar fate, when a driver crashed his vehicle into the statue, shattering it. The news service says it's not clear whether the man is the same Michael T. Reed of Van Buren accused of mowing down the Arkansas monument. No formal charges were filed against him.

"Now that we've seen the monument go up, it is still appalling", said Lee Wood Thomas with the Arkansas Society of Free Thinkers.

The ACLU of Arkansas says it will sue to remove the monument from the Capitol grounds.

Secretary of State's Office spokesman Chris Powell says Capitol Police arrested the male suspect early Wednesday. His motive hasn't been released, but he destroyed a monument in 2014 at the Oklahoma Capitol, blaming psychotic breaks.

Rapert and other supporters of the monument noted that the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 had ruled in favor of a similar memorial on the Texas state capitol grounds. It was installed Tuesday morning (left) on the southwest lawn of the Capitol with little fanfare and no advance notice.

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