Arkansas' Ten Commandments Monument Lasted Less Than 24 Hours
Less than a day after a monument of the Ten Commandments was installed outside the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock, it was destroyed when a man smashed a car into the stone.
Authorities say Michael T. Reed II drove a 2016 Dodge Dart into the 6,000-pound granite slab at about 4:47 a.m. local time on Wednesday.
"My boss called me and told me the Ten Commandments monument had been destroyed," Secretary of State and Capitol Police spokesman Chris Powell told NPR. "When I got here it was rolled over on the sidewalk and broken into multiple pieces."
A video that appears to have been taken from inside the car was posted on the Facebook account of a Michael Reed early Wednesday. It shows what looks like the Arkansas State Capitol building. A man's voice says "Oh my goodness. Freedom!" as the car careers into the monument.
Powell said the crash into the 6-foot-tall slab was no accident.
"This was deliberate. The individual drove down there and stopped. He was videoing it on his cellphone as he accelerated into the monument," Powell said. "One of our Capitol Police officers was on patrol and witnessed it."
Reed, who police say is a 32-year-old white male from Van Buren, Ark., was arrested outside the Capitol and booked at the Pulaski County Jail. He faces preliminary charges of defacing an object of public respect, a Class C felony; criminal mischief in the first degree, a Class C felony; and trespassing on the state Capitol grounds, a misdemeanor.
An extremely similar incident happened at the Oklahoma Capitol in 2014: A man drove his car into a Ten Commandments monument, shattering it. That driver was also identified as Michael T. Reed of Van Buren, Ark. He was admitted to a hospital the next day for mental treatment and not formally charged, The Associated Press reports. 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.
In the 2014 incident, The Oklahoman reported that the U.S. Secret Service interviewed the driver and that he told agents he suffered from a bipolar disorder and that Satan had directed him to destroy the monument.
Police said Wednesday that Reed was cooperative during his arrest and that, so far, there's no indication of motive.
The erection of the privately funded monument has been contentious. The Arkansas legislature passed a law in 2015 requiring the installation of the monument on Capitol grounds. The Commandments were erected Tuesday morning, and the ACLU of Arkansas says it will sue for the monument's removal.
Meanwhile, Powell said Capitol workers are left picking up the (extremely heavy) pieces: "Our crew is in the process of cleaning all that up and carting it off. They have to get a tractor and put it on pallets and lift it up."
And the Dodge Dart was towed away, Powell said, adding, "There was minor damage, but not what you'd think, from what I hear, from knocking over a big stone monument."
Republican state Sen. Jason Rapert, who spearheaded the effort to install the Ten Commandments monument at the Capitol, says he wants to replace it, Michael Hibblen of member station KUAR reports.
"We will rebuild the monument," Rapert said. "It will be put in place and hopefully [protected] from any future harm."