Little Rock, Ark., Jun 30, 2017 / 05:51 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- When Moses smashed the stone tablets in Exodus 32, out of rage for the sins of his people, he used his bare hands. But maybe a car would have made the task easier?
Michael Tate Reed, 32, yelled “Freedom!” as he plowed his car into a statue of the 10 Commandments placed outside the state capitol of Arkansas early in the morning of June 28, demolishing it. The privately-funded monument, the product of a years-long heated debate about its constitutionality, had been up for fewer than 24 hours when Reed filmed himself destroying it.
Reed posted the video to his personal Facebook, where he also self-identifies as a born-again Christian and “Pentecostal Jesus Freak.” Reed was caught in the act by an on-patrol police officer at the capitol and is being held in the Pulaski County Detention Center on charges of defacing an object of public interest, criminal trespassing and first degree criminal mischief, according to authorities. It is his second alleged 10-Commandment-smashing offense.
Oklahoma authorities confirmed to The Associated Press that Reed is the same man who was arrested in October 2014 for destroying Oklahoma’s Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol with his car. At that time, Reed self-identified as a Satanist and said that Satan had told him to smash the monument. He was charged with destruction of state property or improvements, indecent exposure, making threatening statements, reckless driving, and operating a vehicle with a revoked license in 2014.
In 2015, Reed wrote an apology for the act that published in a local Oklahoma paper, saying he was sorry and that he had had a psychotic break that drove him to destroy the monument. "I am so sorry that this [is] all happening and I wished I could take it all back," Reed said in a letter to Tulsa World.
Arkansas state Senator Jason Rapert, who pushed for the monument’s construction, told local media that the incident could be a call to consider the state of mental health care in Arkansas, but that it has not yet been a proven defense for Reed’s most recent act. Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson tweeted that “resorting to property destruction is never the answer to a policy disagreement”.
The American Civil Liberties Union had opposed the building of the Arkansas monument as well as other 10 Commandments monuments at state capitols around the United States. Its construction was also opposed by the Freethinkers Society and the Satanic Temple. After the destruction of Arkansas’ monument, the ACLU has said that they “strongly condemn any illegal act of destruction or vandalism.”
“The ACLU remains committed to seeing this unconstitutional monument struck down by the courts and safely removed through legal means,” ACLU of Arkansas Executive Director Rita Sklar said.
Monuments of the 10 Commandments have attracted controversy in the past. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a monument of the 10 Commandments in Texas was constitutional, and other federal courts have been divided on other such monuments. Rapert said Wednesday during a Facebook live news conference that he intended to have the Arkansas monument rebuilt.