Religious monument at Arkansas State Capitol destroyed – June 2017

Little Rock, AR

Michael T. Reed drove his car through a large stone monument of the Ten Commandments located in front of the Arkansas State Capitol at 4:47 am on Wednesday, June 28, 2017. He was arrested outside the building and charged with criminal trespass, first-degree criminal mischief, and defacing objects of public interest. The monument has since been replaced.

Key Players

Michael T. Reed is a 32-year-old man who was arrested for driving his car through the monument. He was involved a previous incident involving a monument outside the Oklahoma State Capitol in 2014.

Jason Rapert is a Republican Arkansas state senator who originally led the movement to have the monument displayed outside the state capitol. The Washington Post reported that he said a replacement monument had been ordered shortly after Reed destroyed it.

Further Details

On October 24, 2014, Reed was arrested in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for ramming his truck into a similar monument at the Oklahoma State Capitol. ABC8 Tulsa reported that he was “charged with destruction of state property / improvements, indecent exposure, making threatening statements, reckless driving, and operating a vehicle while license revoked.” He was also charged with four counts of felony assault and battery with a dangerous weapon for his actions during his detention by police. Reuters reported that after the incident, Reed ran into a nearby federal building where he made threats against President Obama before he was arrested. Tulsa World reported that after that incident, Reed was sent to Norman’s Griffin Memorial Hospital as part of an agreement with Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater. There, he received therapy, and was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. On June 30, 2015, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court ordered that the Ten Commandments monument on display in Tulsa be removed.

Little Rock Patch reported that Reed was streaming the Little Rock incident on Facebook live as he drove his car into the monument at a speed of more than 20 mph. He reportedly shouted, “Oh my goodness. Freedom!” on the broadcast.

Trent Garner, a Republican Arkansas state senator, tweeted after the incident, “We will rebuild. In fact, we should build the monument bigger and higher to show that we will not be intimidated.”

The Washington Post reported that a 2015 law was passed in Arkansas requiring the state government to allow the display of the monument outside the capitol. The article also stated that groups criticized the monument as a violation of the separation of church and state.

Outcome

Reed taken into custody, later acquitted on account of mental state

Reed was charged with defacing objects of public interest and first-degree criminal mischief, as well as trespassing, according to The Washington Post. In November 2017, Reed was found unfit to stand trial, and was committed to the Arkansas State Hospital, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. In May 2018, Reed was acquitted as a result of his mental state, and was ordered released. Per the judge’s orders, Reed must continue to receive mental health treatment and is prohibited from driving a vehicle.

Destroyed monument is replaced

The Post also reported that State Senator Rapert said a replacement monument was ordered for the Arkansas State Capitol after Reed drove his car into the original one and destroyed it. The new monument was installed in April 2018, according to the Associated Press, after private fundraising efforts by Rapert.

Atheist group protests with satanic statue

In August 2018, the atheist Satanic Temple group unveiled a statue of the satanic goat monster Baphomet at the Arkansas state capitol. Though temporary, Baphomet is intended to serve as a protest of the religious monument, which the group sees as a violation of the separation of church and state.

External References

Letter from many who destroyed Ten Commandments monument gives insight into his illness, Tulsa World

Man smashes Arkansas Capitol’s new Ten Commandments monument, Reuters

Driver Arrested After Running Over Ten Commandments Monument, ABC8 Tulsa

Michael Tate Reed: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know, Heavy

Arkansas 10 Commandments Monument Destroyed On Facebook Live: ‘FREEDOM!’”

Oklahoma’s Ten Commandments statue must be removed, state supreme court says, The Washington Post

Why one man keeps ramming his car into Ten Commandments statues on government property, The Washington Post

Arkansas’ Ten Commandments Monument Lasted Less Than 24 Hours, NPR

Man accused of smashing Ten Commandments monument at Arkansas Capitol found unfit for trial, Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Man who destroyed Arkansas’ Ten Commandments display ordered released, Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Arkansas replaces Ten Commandments monument at state Capitol, Associated Press

Prepared by Graham Piro ‘18

October 24, 2017

Updated October 8, 2018