An Arkansas man has been arrested for plowing his vehicle into a Ten Commandments monument that had been installed only a day beforehand. The suspect streamed the incident live on social media (video below).
On June 27, a Ten Commandments monument was erected before the Arkansas Capitol. State Sen. Jason Rapert, who had sponsored the 2015 bill that authorized the fixture, heralded its installation.
"We're just very grateful to have this up and see the law fulfilled," Rapert told reporters, according to CNN. "We have beautiful Capitol grounds, but we did not have a monument that actually honored the historical moral foundation of law."
The installation came with controversy, with critics blasting the Arkansas Legislature of violating the separation of church and state.
"I'm appalled that they've actually gone through with it," LeeWood Thomas of the Arkansas Society of Film Critics told Arkansas Matters. "To see elected government officials go through with the erection of a religious monument on our Capitol lawn is appalling."
Neither Rapert or Thomas could have known that the monument wouldn't last more than a day. In the early hours of June 28, 32-year-old Michael T. Reed of Van Buren allegedly drove his car across the Capitol grounds and right into the Ten Commandments, tipping the monument over.
"My boss called me and told me the Ten Commandments monument had been destroyed," Capitol Police Chris Powell spokesman told NPR. "When I got here, it was rolled over on the sidewalk and broken into multiple pieces."
Reed had streamed his headlong drive into the religious tablets on Facebook Live. As the suspect accelerated across the lawn, nearing the monument, he could be heard crying out: "Freedom!"
"This was deliberate," Powell asserted. "The individual drove down there and stopped. He was videoing it on his cell phone as he accelerated into the monument. One of our Capitol Police officers was on patrol and witnessed it."
Adding an extra layer of absurdity to the crime is that this may not be the first time Reed has destroyed the Ten Commandments. In 2014, a man by the same name and county of origin drove his car straight into a Ten Commandments monument at the Ohio Capitol. It has not been confirmed by police whether it was the same suspect.
The 2014 suspect had also threatened to assassinate former President Barack Obama. When interviewed by the Secret Service, he said that he had bipolar disorder and that Satan commanded him to destroy the Ten Commandments monument, according to The Oklahoman.
Following the destruction of the Arkansas monument, Rapert announced that the fixture would be rebuilt.
"This act of violence against the people of Arkansas will not stop us from fulfilling the law," Rapert said in a statement. "The monument will be rebuilt and will stand at the Arkansas State Capitol."
Lucien Greaves of the Satanic Temple released a statement asserting that Reed's actions did not represent his group's views.
"I want it to be clear that while we do not celebrate what [Reed] has done, he clearly also does not align himself with us either," Greaves said.
Reeves has been charged with two Class C felonies and a misdemeanor for destroying the monument.
Former GOP Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas took to social media to quip about the incident.
"Some idiot in my home state broke all 10 commandments at the same time," Huckabee tweeted out. "He wasn't Moses and it wasn't Mt. Sinai."