City workers have removed pieces of the newly installed Ten Commandments monument from the Arkansas Capitol grounds after a Van Buren man apparently toppled it with his car.
Photo by Tim Yarbrough
The recently installed Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol lays in pieces after a Van Buren man rammed it with his car early Wednesday morning, June 28.
The 6-foot-tall stone monument was installed June 27 in Little Rock, but was destroyed less than 24 hours later after Michael Tate Reed, 32, of Van Buren allegedly drove a vehicle into the statue. City officials told the media he carried out the act while streaming it live on Facebook.
Chris Powell, a spokesman with the Secretary of State’s Office, said he was notified June 28 that a man had driven a vehicle through the monument. Reed was arrested by Capitol police shortly afterward. He was previously accused of destroying a Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma, according to news reports.
An arrest report on the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department website reported Reed is being charged with defacing objects of public interest, criminal trespass and first degree criminal mischief. Reed faces fines of $2,500 and jail time for the offenses. He was being held without bail pending an initial court appearance.
An officer said he spotted a dark-colored vehicle “start from a stopped position and ram the Ten Commandments monument” shortly before 5 a.m. Wednesday. The arrest report for Reed listed “unemployed/disabled” under occupation.
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, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
A Facebook Live video to an account under the name Michael Reed, appears to show a driver shining his headlights on the monument and shouting, “Freedom!” as he drives toward it. As the vehicle makes contact with the monument, the video cut out, the Democrat-Gazette reported.
In another Facebook video posted by a man who identified himself Michael Reed, the Democrat-Gazette reported, the man described his beliefs in both Jesus and the separation of church and state.
“I’m a firm believer that part of salvation is that we not only have faith in Jesus Christ but we obey the commands of God, and that we confess Jesus as Lord,” the Democrat-Gazette reported he said in the video. “But one thing I do not support is the violation of our Constitutional right to have the freedom that’s guaranteed to us, that guarantees us the separation of church and state.”
There’s “no one religion” that the government should represent, he reportedly said in the video.
In 2014, Reed was accused of ramming his truck into a Ten Commandments statue of a similar design at the Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City, the Tulsa World reported.
Authorities said he also made threats against President Barack Obama, lit money on fire and walked into a federal building to spit on pictures, the paper reported. Reed was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder after being taken to a mental facility for evaluation following the crash, the report said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – The Arkansas Baptist News, arkansasbaptist.org, is the newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist Convention.)