A monument prominently displaying the Ten Commandments was installed outside the Arkansas State Capitol on Tuesday, June 27, 2017. Less than 24 hours later, a man drove a car into it and destroyed it.
“When I got here,” spokesman Chris Powell of the Secretary of State and Capitol Police told reporters, “it was rolled over on the sidewalk and broken into multiple pieces.”
The 6,000-pound granite monument was installed much to the chagrin of the ACLU, which promised a lawsuit over what it feels makes the non-religious or those that practice a different religion feel like “second-class citizens.” Republican Senator Jason Rapert backed the fundraising for and erection of the monument. He called the ACLU lawsuit “foolhardy” and a waste of money after the Supreme Court ruled “these monuments don’t violate the Establishment Clause.” Rapert refers to a 2005 Supreme Court decision in which the Texas State Capitol was allowed to keep a similar monument displaying the Ten Commandments in place.
The driver of the vehicle, a 2016 Dodge Dart, that destroyed the monument posted a video to his Facebook page documenting the act. His name is Michael T. Reed II, a 32-year-old white male from Van Buren, Arkansas. A man, presumed to be Reed, can be heard on the video saying, “Oh my goodness. Freedom!” A police officer on patrol at the Capitol Building witnessed Reed driving into the monument at 4:47 a.m. Wednesday. Reed was arrested and faces charges of defacing an object of public respect, criminal mischief in the first degree, and trespassing on the state Capitol grounds.
A similar incident occurred in Oklahoma in 2014. A man, also named Michael Reed, drove into a monument of the Ten Commandments, destroying it. It has not yet been confirmed if this is the same Michael T. Reed that committed this most recent crime.
As far as Rapert is concerned, though, the monument needs to be rebuilt. “It will be put in place and hopefully [protected] from any future harm,” he told NPR.