A 6-foot-tall stone Ten Commandments monument installed Tuesday on the Arkansas Capitol grounds was toppled less than 24 hours later after a 32-year-old Arkansas man drove a vehicle into the statue, apparently while streaming the act live on Facebook, officials said.
Chris Powell, a spokesman with the Secretary of State’s Office, said he was called early Wednesday and told a man drove a vehicle through the monument. That driver — identified in an arrest report as Michael Tate Reed of Van Buren — was arrested by Capitol police shortly after, Powell said. News reports indicate Reed was previously accused of destroying a Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma.
The Arkansas arrest report said an officer around 4:45 a.m. spotted a dark-colored vehicle “start from a stopped position and ram the Ten Commandments monument.”
“I immediately exited my vehicle and placed the subject in custody,” Corporal Chad Durham wrote, noting Reed was first taken to a local hospital before being booked into the Pulaski County jail.
The arrest report for Reed listed “unemployed/disabled” under occupation.
Reed, who was lodged in the jail shortly after 7:30 a.m., faces charges of defacing objects of public respect, trespassing on Capitol grounds and first-degree criminal mischief, according to the report. He was being held without bail pending an initial court appearance.
It was “absolutely” a shock to get the call about what happened, Powell said.
“We had some concerns, just because this was such a highly charged issue with some people,” Powell said.
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 senator is expected to speak more about what happened at an 11:30 a.m. news conference at the Capitol.
Video appears to show destruction
In Little Rock, investigators believe Reed recorded himself as he drove into the statue, Powell said.
In a Facebook Live video to an account under the name Michael Reed, a driver appears to shine his headlights on the monument and shouts, “Freedom!” as he drives toward it. As the vehicle hits the granite, the video cuts out.
In another Facebook video posted early Wednesday, a man who called himself Michael Reed described his beliefs in both Jesus and the separation of church and state. He spoke from a seat in a 2016 Dodge Dart.
“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,” 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, the man said.
In a different video posted earlier, the same man said he had to “confess my sin.”
“I made a promise that I very much intended to keep that I would go get help if things didn’t happen the way I thought they would,” he said.
“Now my plan is this,” he later added. “I’m taking a sabbatical. I’m going to go, I’m leaving this place, and I’m gonna see God more and just trust in him.”
The man also described interactions with police and medical personnel before Wednesday morning’s wreck. He said in a Facebook post if his plans were not carried out the way he wanted, he would return to a hospital.
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SOURCE: Arkansas Online – Emma Pettit