On Tuesday, a controversial monument dedicated to the Ten Commandments was erected on the grounds of the Arkansas state capitol. By Wednesday, the display was destroyed by a vandal who plowed his vehicle into the $26,000 memorial.
“This was an act of violence against the people of Arkansas,” state senator Jason Rapert told Fox News’ Todd Starnes.
According to reports, suspect Michael Tate Reed was taken into custody after police watched him drive onto the Capitol grounds in Little Rock and intentionally ram his car into the monument. Reed was arrested for a similar crime in 2014, when he defaced a Ten Commandments display in Oklahoma.
Prior to Wednesday’s vandalism, the six-foot tall memorial had not been without controversy. It was originally authorized to be built on the lawn of the capitol in 2015 via the Ten Commandments Monument Display Act, which was sponsored by Rapert and stated the religious law were “an important component of the moral foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States of America and of the State of Arkansas.” The Act had cited as 2005 Supreme Court decision that ruled having the Ten Commandments on state grounds was not a violation of the First Amendment but that did not little to appease the naysayers.
“I’m appalled that they’ve actually gone through with it,” LeeWood Thomas of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers told CNN affiliate KARK-TV. “To see elected government officials go through with the erection of a religious monument on our Capitol lawn is appalling.”
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee took to Twitter to quip that the suspect had managed to break all Ten Commandments at the same time, and supporters have already vowed to rebuild the monument.
Some idiot in my home state broke all 10 commandments at the same time. He wasn't Moses and it wasn't Mt. Sinai. https://t.co/r8hXrJ32JZ
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) June 28, 2017
“It will be rebuilt,” Rapert said emphatically. “People need to focus on being civil and debating issues rather than thinking they can take the law into their own hands and commit acts of violence against people with whom they disagree.”