Michael Tate Reed, above, the man accused of ramming a car into the newly erected Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Arkansas state Capitol earlier today (Wednesday) posted a video to his Facebook page, saying he was doing it because it was a violation of the separation of church and state.
Reed, 32, describes himself as:
A born again Christian whos (sic) a pentacostal Jesus Freak.
He streamed to Facebook Live the moment he drove his 2016 Dodge Dart over the statehouse lawn and crashed into the Monument.
One of his Facebook supporters, Elizabeth Horton, commented:
Thank you for saving the taxpayers of Arkansas all the $ they would have wasted trying to fight to have this illegally placed monument erected on public land. The years of legislative time that would have been wasted trying to keep this at the capitol can now be spent on matters that actually affect Arkansas. It was a clear violation of our state constitution.
According to this CNN report, the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office confirmed to CNN the video shows Reed driving into the monument.
As music plays inside the car, the headlights illuminate the grass and then the large stone slab –which was erected yesterday afternoon – with the statehouse lit in the background. The vehicle speeds toward the monument and crashes into it, and the video stops.
The 6-foot tall stone monument was knocked off of its base and broke into at least three sections, with some of the pieces crumbling.
Reed was immediately arrested by Capitol police, according to Chris Powell, a spokesman for the Arkansas Secretary of State.
He 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.
Reed was arrested after a similar event in 2014. Oklahoma County Sheriff spokesman Mark Opgrande said. Oklahoma Highway Patrol officers assigned to the state capitol on October 24, 2014, arrested him in connection with an incident where he allegedly ran over a Ten Commandments statue on capitol grounds.
News reports from the time indicated Reed then lived in Roland, Oklahoma, near the border with Arkansas.
According to the BBC he was diagnosed with a schizo-affective disorder (a mental health condition) after that incident but was released from hospital in January 2015 as part of an agreement with the Oklahoma County district attorney’s office in which he pledged to continue receiving treatment and therapy.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee joked in a tweet that an “idiot” had broken all Ten Commandments at the same time.
The monument was dedicated following two years of controversy and debate. It was originally authorised in 2015 in the Ten Commandments Monument Display Act, which defined the religious laws 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.
But not everyone was pleased about the monument. LeeWood Thomas of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers said:
I’m appalled that they’ve actually gone through with it. 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.
The secretary of state’s office set up a hotline for comments on the display, with 142 for the monument and 65 against it.
Reed says he’s started a crowdfunding campaign.
I need a new car now.
Hat tip: Trevor Blake and Matthew Carr.