LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The newly unveiled Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Arkansas state Capitol was knocked over early Wednesday, less than 24 hours after it was erected, a state government official said.
Michael Tate Reed, 32, was arrested after Capitol police saw him drive onto the Capitol grounds in Little Rock and intentionally ram his car into the monument, according to Chris Powell, a spokesman for the Arkansas secretary of state.
Reed faces charges of defacing an object of public interest, criminal mischief in the first degree and criminal trespass, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office said.
It’s not known why Reed allegedly drove into the statue. Video from KATV-TV in Little Rock showed the large stone slab was knocked off its base and cracked into at least three pieces.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee quipped in a tweet that an “idiot” had broken all Ten Commandments at the same time.
Powell said it’s not clear if the monument will be restored because it was privately funded.
The monument was dedicated Tuesday after two years of controversy and debate.
Standing at more than 6 feet tall, it was originally authorized in 2015 in the Ten Commandments Monument Display Act, which defined them as “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.”
State Sen. Jason Rapert, a primary sponsor of the legislation, praised its installation Tuesday.
“We’re just very grateful to have this up and see the law fulfilled,” he said. “We have a beautiful Capitol grounds, but we did not have a monument that actually honored the historical moral foundation of law.”
But not everyone is pleased.
“I’m appalled that they’ve actually gone through with it,” LeeWood Thomas of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers told KARK-TV. “To see elected government officials go through with the erection of a religious monument on our Capitol lawn is appalling.”
The Ten Commandments Monument Display Act cites a 2005 Supreme Court decision from Texas that Ten Commandments monuments on state grounds were not a violation of the First Amendment.
Powell said Tuesday the secretary of state’s office set up a hotline for comments on the display, with 142 for the monument and 65 against it.