A Ten Commandments monument was erected on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol building in Little Rock yesterday. It stood for less than 24 hours before someone toppled and destroyed it, not even long enough for me to write my initial post about it.
The six-foot-tall monument was installed yesterday after Republican Senator Jason Rapert had pushed through legislation in 2015 that would allow the monument on state grounds. The monument itself was then funded through private donations.
Rapert was present yesterday at the unveiling of the monument and said “We have a beautiful Capitol grounds but we did not have a monument that actually honored the historical moral foundation of law.” UGH… seriously? What is he going to do next? Push through legislation to force women to marry their rapists? That is Biblical law, after all. This guy is nuts.
Anyway, the monument did not even make it a full day before someone toppled it. Early Wednesday morning, Michael Tate Reed of Van Buren, Arkansas drove his car into the monument. He filmed himself on a Facebook Live video performing the act.
In the video, Reed can be heard yelling, “Freedom!” as he drives toward the monument. The collision with the monument can be heard as the video abruptly ends. The 6,000 pound monument fell from its plinth and shattered on the ground. Reed was promptly arrested for defacing objects of public interest, criminal trespass, and criminal mischief.
Back in 2014, Reed was arrested for destroying a Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma State Capitol, as well. He apparently has a driving need (pun intended) to destroy these monuments whenever they appear on public, government grounds. In Reed's Facebook profile, his description of himself reads: "im a born again Christian whos a pentacostal Jesus Freak". In some of the news reports covering this incident there is speculation that Reed suffers from mental illness (that is, mental illness beyond just being devoutly Christian).
Officials have not yet stated what the plans are for the future of the monument. The cost of the original was $26,000 and was funded through private donations. I doubt they would have much trouble raising that much money again, given the “Christian persecution” card that they could play in their fundraising efforts. But we will see what the future holds for it.
While I was among the many atheists and secularists who opposed the monument because of its location on state grounds, I do not think that this was necessarily the most constructive way to remove it. This kind of action usually prompts a pretty fierce reaction that is usually not constructive. We will know more in the coming days and weeks how this will play out.