Less than 24 hours after going up, the Ten Commandments monument outside the Arkansas State Capitol building has been destroyed.
And the alleged vandal is a self-described “born again Christian” and “Jesus Freak.”
He may also be the same man who drove into Oklahoma’s Ten Commandments monument in 2014.
In the meantime, however, state officials will have to deal with the broken pieces of the Christian icon.
Officials say Arkansas’ new Ten Commandments monument was destroyed by someone driving a vehicle into it less than 24 hours after the monument was placed on state Capitol grounds.
Secretary of State’s Office spokesman Chris Powell says Capitol Police arrested the male suspect early Wednesday. The suspect’s name and motive haven’t been released.
The stone monument fell to the ground and broke into multiple pieces.
His name has since been released, and it’s 32-year-old Arkansas native Michael Tate Reed.
Reed even videotaped himself doing the deed earlier this morning. He left a simple message on Facebook (“Freedom”), turned on the camera, and began driving. (Edit: Facebook removed his videos, so a mirror is below.)
He was taken to the hospital before being booked at the Pulaski County jail.
Why did he do it? There are plenty of hints on Reed’s Facebook page, which is littered with references to his Christian faith.
Before driving into the monument, Reed posted a video explaining that, while he loved Jesus and lived by the Commandments, he firmly believed in separation of church and state. This monument violated that. Therefore, it had to go. (He also said, in a cryptic self-referential way, that he was “back at it again with the white plans.”)
There were hints before that as well.
Reed added that he had paid for his car by himself — the Dodge Dart he planned to drive into the monument — and would need a new one very soon. While he didn’t elaborate on his plans at the time, he promoted a GoFundMe campaign for a new car just hours before his act of vandalism. All it says in the description area of that campaign is “I need a new car now #CHECKMATE.”
As of this writing, there are only two donations. Both came after he destroyed the monument.
This may not be Reed’s first time vandalizing a Ten Commandments monument on state grounds. In 2014, a man with the same name did the same thing in Oklahoma. The culprit said at the time that he was “diagnosed with Bipolar and… was off his medication.” He also told authorities the Devil made him do it.
Needless to say, what Reed did today was awful and indefensible. While many atheists — individuals and organizations — believed the monument should never have gone up and planned to sue the state over the matter, no one advocated for the Christian monument to be destroyed.
State Sen. Jason Rapert, who spearheaded the campaign to put the monument up, has not yet reacted to the destruction.
***Update***: The Freedom From Religion Foundation responded to the vandalism:
FFRF does not condone violating the Constitution by erecting a Ten Commandments monument on the Arkansas Capitol grounds. Nor do we condone breaking the law to remove such a display.
There is no need to resort to criminal behavior to uphold the Constitution. Obviously, the motivation of this disturbed individual is unknown (and perhaps even unknown to him), but is unlikely to be about upholding the separation of religion and government.
Whatever his motivation: We are a nation governed by the rule of law. That not only means vandalism will not be tolerated, but it also means that we take our disputes to court.
We are confident the facts in the Arkansas placement of a Ten Commandments monument will result in lawful removal of the bible edicts from the seat of state government.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)