The new Ten Commandments monument at the Arkansas Capitol was destroyed by a car overnight less than 24 hours after installation on the Capitol grounds.
A suspect is in custody, Michael Reed, 32, of Van Buren. He’s been charged with defacing objects of public interest; criminal trespass on the Capitol grounds, and
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The secretary of state’s office said a Capitol police officer on patrol saw the car enter the Capitol grounds from the south and then do a u-turn after passing the monument. The officer realized something was amiss, but the car then smashed into the monument and stopped. The officer took Reed into custody. He was “cooperative,” spokesman Danielle Fusco said. He was taken to St. Vincent for evaluation. He apparently suffered no serious injuries and was taken to the county jail. The car was towed.
He’s apparently the sasme man who similarly destroyed a 10 Commandments monument in Oklahoma in 2014. The linked article is a Tulsa World columnist’s account n 2015 of Michael Reed’s letter about his mental illness. Then 29, Reed was released from an Oklahoma hospital in January 2015 “under an agreement with Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater for continued treatment, therapy and family support. He is diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.”
Video on Facebook in an account bearing the name Michael Reed seems to record the event. The 18-second video has a one-word descriptive: “Freedom.” The driver in the video says, “Oh my goodness.” and then “Freedom” before smashing into the tablet.
Other posts on the Facebook page where this is posted include several videos. In one (see below), Reed talks
There are many other messages, some confused, on his page and multiple videos including one in which he says, “Yes, I am a pothead,” but cites a Biblical justification. He also posted this message last night: “Our constitutional rights have been violated and since no one will do anything about it, I will.”
From the photo, it appears the inscribed tablet broke up after being knocked off the base to which it was bolted.
The monument was put in place Tuesday morning with Sen. Jason Rapert, who sponsored legislation to enable it, on hand to pronounce a “great day for Arkansas.” Several groups have vowed to sue over the installation as state promotion of religion.
A similar monument in Oklahoma was destroyed in 2014. Police arrested Michael Tate Reed II. He was originally brought to their attention by threats against the president and said the devil made him do it. He drove a car into that monument. The Arkansas monument cost about $26,000 and was paid with private donations to a nonprofit set up for the purpose.
And there’s always a little dark humor in bad news. One local newsman comments:
It just ain’t Biblical if the 10 Commandments don’t get smashed once on the way to wherever its going.
In the vein of smashed tablets, Republican Sen. Trent Garner was among the first, if not the first, to move to capitalize politically on expected fervor over the event.
— Senator Trent Garner (@Garner4Senate) June 28, 2017
I don’t know if you can build a monument high enough to intimidate a schizophrenic pothead. The Constitution itself isn’t mighty enough to stop the Arkansas legislature from destructive acts. For the record: Oklahoma rebuilt its smashed 10 Commandments monument. There, the U.S. Constitution won in the end. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ordered the statue’s removal for the preference it showed for a specific religious sect.