A statue of the Ten Commandments is seen after it was installed June 27, 2017, on the grounds of the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. Photo by Steve Barnes/Reuters

Man arrested for smashing Ten Commandments monument at Arkansas Capitol

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) A newly installed Ten Commandments monument on Arkansas state Capitol grounds was toppled on Wednesday (June 28), with police saying they have arrested a man they suspect of driving his vehicle into the granite slab.


RELATED: Ten Commandments monument installed on Arkansas Capitol grounds


"It was shattered into a lot of pieces," Chris Powell, a spokesman for the Secretary of State and Capitol Police, said in an interview.

No motive has been released for destroying the monument installed on Tuesday, Powell said. The suspect, identified as Michael Reed, faces three charges, including felony defacing an object of public interest.

An officer patrolling nearby arrested Reed, 32, shortly after the incident occurred, Powell said. No lawyer was listed for the suspect in online jail records.

The 6-foot monument was funded with $26,000 in private donations. Legislation permitting it on the Capitol grounds was enacted in 2015, and whether that was appropriate has been debated ever since.

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Courts have ordered the removal of similar religious monuments erected in Oklahoma and Alabama.

A civil liberties group pledged a court challenge in Arkansas, saying the monument showed an unconstitutional government preference for a certain religion.

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At the installation ceremony in Little Rock on Tuesday, Republican state Sen. Jason Rapert noted that the Ten Commandments were chiseled into the portals of the U.S. Supreme Court.

"If it’s good enough for the United States Capitol, it’s good enough for the state of Arkansas,” said Rapert, an evangelist who sponsored the legislation permitting the new monument.

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But Rita Sklar, executive director of the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, has said the group is preparing to file a lawsuit over the placement of the monument, which she called a visible symbol of government endorsement of one particular religious belief.

Since Arkansas' Ten Commandments monument act was proposed about two years ago, satanists and other groups have also sought state permission to place markers on Capitol grounds, but their requests were rejected.

(Reporting by Steve Barnes in Little Rock and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas)

Comments

  1. This is the same guy who smashed the 10 Commandments monument in OK. He wasn’t charged there but sent to a mental hospital. This time he should be charged and sentenced to write the 10 Commandments out by hand 5000 times – in manuscript print. And then he should have to write out the US Constitution by hand 500 times and then…(sorry, I’m getting a little carried away.)

  2. Only five states in the US do not have a hate crimes statute. Anyone want to guess which one of them is?
    “The government has no business creating special classes of crime victims and politicizing crime.” – Bob Knight, Family Research Council.
    If Rapert actually said the Ten Commandments are “chiseled into the portals of the Supreme Court,” that is highly inaccurate. Like many other courts around the country, various SCOTUS sculptures show Moses among other lawgivers, with the tablets either blank or in really anachronistic Roman numerals. The closest these sculptures get to showing the text is portions in Hebrew of the most secular of the commandments, 6 through 10.

  3. From a news article at heavy.com:

    “In 2014, Reed made headlines after he was accused of demolishing and urinating on the Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma. “im a born again Christian whose a pentacostal Jesus Freak,” Reed wrote on Facebook.”

    A Christian who believes in separation of church and state. He allegedly referred to himself as a terrorist. So not an atheist or Leftist. Priceless! But I won’t label him a Christian terrorist – he’s likely just mentally ill as are most of these guys (from Left and Right).

  4. This guy should have simply donated $100 to the ACLU, and let them do their usual mess in court.

    But no worries. Happy 4th of July, Michael Reed — in the JAILHOUSE !!

    (And good luck with your car insurance rates too! “Nationwide is on your side.” )

  5. Just give the guy the bill for repair/replacement.

  6. I wonder how this guy feels about no parking on the lawn laws?

  7. Give the guy a break. The guy simply acted after thinking to himself “WWMD?” (What Would Moses Do?)

    Exodus 32:19, after Moses had received the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments:

    And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing; and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and broke them beneath the mount.

  8. Despite the lack of text, or as you note, the inclusion of portions of text, limited to “6 through 10” in Hebrew, the average person is not going to make that distinction and thus the symbolism of the “law giving” remains, including the religious subtext. And as most people can agree in large part with the moral commands therein, as opposed to the “spiritual” ones, I simply do not understand the animus of those who are practically rabid in their opposition to what is essentially a symbolic icon.

  9. I must applaud your regular expressions of wit on these religious issues, there is usually a delicious subtlety about them.

  10. It was an accident. He was driving along and the Ten Commandments just jumped right in front of him. 🙂

  11. It is hardly the sectarian endorsement of faith as the monument here. By including it as part of a continuum of other lawmakers it is seen as one of many. Ecumenism and embrace of all beliefs.

    The monument here is an endorsement of one faith and sect (Text varies distinctly between Jewish, Catholic, Protestant versions of the Decalogue). It is offensive because it gives the impression that all other beliefs or variations of belief will not be taken seriously by government or will be excluded intentionally.

  12. That’s exactly my point, the installations I mentioned are symbolic of the concepts of the law and lawgivers. Often other laws and lawgivers are also pictured. In Arkansas, as has been the case in other states, the entire text of the Ten Commandments is pictured — and I guarantee you it’s from a Protestant Bible. This is more than symbolic. When Arkansas puts up the Quran, let me know.

  13. I wish he had let the judicial process take care of this as it was a very obvious endorsement of a religion by a government. However I also understand his action.

    As to the 10 Commandments on the US Supreme Court building, that is a specious argument at best. The freeze of the building is not limited to Jedou-Christian text but also includes statements from the Koran, Plato, etc.

  14. Besides the fact that 99% of US Christians can’t even name the 10 Commandments! How precious they are to them, kind of like the family Bible sitting on the mantle gathering dust.

  15. Minus the amount the government would have had to pay to remove them from the premises.

  16. Don’t know about Christians specifically, but the actual figure for Americans in general who can’t name all 10 is 86%.

    But the 99% figure IS accurate for the percentage of Americans who can’t name all their 1st Amendment rights.

  17. Thanks for the correction. I was speaking in hyperbole, but for accuracy’s sake your statistic is welcome.

  18. I wish I were speaking in hyperbole about Americans and the 1st Amendment. Sad.

  19. I usually defer to your superior knowledge of the law, but in this case I’m not prepared to concede, that in point of fact the placement, in its practical effect, is anything more than symbolic. But I offer this dissent with the greatest respect for you.

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