LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An Arkansas man was arrested on Wednesday after he destroyed a Ten Commandments monument that had been installed just yesterday on the grounds of the Arkansas capitol building.
Michael Tate Reed, 32, of Van Buren was taken into custody on charges of defacing objects of public interest, criminal trespass and first-degree criminal mischief. Reed recorded himself destroying the monument under the cover of darkness, driving his car into the decalogue and yelling “freedom!”
He posted the video to Facebook at approximately 5 a.m. local time. (See end of report.)
Reed identifies himself as a Christian and a “Pentecostal Jesus freak” on his Facebook page, but some of his posts are obscure and confuddled, and followers have urged him to get help in observing his mental health struggles.
“If tonight doesn’t go down like I’ve seen and been told, I promise I will go to Valley hospital and have them court order me on meds,” he wrote on Tuesday.
Reed also posted a video stating that while he believes that men should “obey the commands of God,” he is a proponent of the “separation of church and state” and feels that “[t]here’s no one religion government should support.”
He spoke of what he called “white plans,” and advised that he would need another car after he carried through his plot to destroy the monument.
“Our constitutional rights have been violated and since no one will do anything about it, I will,” he also wrote.
Reed additionally launched a GoFundMe page in an effort to raise $20,000 for a new car, but the page appears to have been taken down by the organization as of press time.
In 2014, a man by the same name smashed into Oklahoma’s Ten Commandments monument, later explaining in a letter that he struggled with mental illness and was obtaining professional help.
“Michael Tate Reed II stated in a letter that his psychotic breaks led to getting inspiration from a Dracula movie, thinking Michael Jackson’s spirit was in meat, believing he was the incarnation of an occult leader and attempting to contact Lucifer’s high priestess he called Gwyneth Paltrow,” Tulsa World outlined.
The Arkansas monument had just been installed on Tuesday, with Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, recording a video discussing why the display is both needed and legal.
“We have a beautiful Capitol grounds, but we did not have a monument that actually honored the historical moral foundation of law,” he said. “And today we have now, through the support of people all over the country, mostly from Arkansas, been able to erect this monument at zero taxpayer expense.”
He noted that the decalogue is an exact replica of the monument displayed at the Texas state capitol, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 in the case of Van Orden v. Perry.
Rapert also advised that the Ten Commandments are part of the architecture at the Supreme Court itself.
“[W]hen you walk into the United States Supreme Court and walk up those steps and go into there toward the inner chamber, on the lower left and the lower right of those doors, etched in those doors are the Ten Commandments,” he outlined. “[If] you open up those doors [and] you look above the head of the chief justice of the United State Supreme Court, you will see Moses.”
“So, if it’s good enough for the United States capitol, it’s good enough for the state of Arkansas,” Rapert stated.
As previously reported, Rapert proposed the placement of the Ten Commandments monument in 2015, advising that it would be funded by private money. His bill regarding the matter was approved in the House and Senate, and was subsequently signed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
“The placement of the monument under this section shall not be construed to mean that the State of Arkansas favors any particular religion or denomination over others,” SB 939 read in part.
The Satanic Temple, a group that seeks to combat what they believe is partiality to Christianity in government, soon requested to also place an homage to Satan at the location.
“The Arkansas legislature unwittingly opened the door for our monument to be erected at Little Rock, while they clearly believed they could preference the Ten Commandments,” spokesman Doug Mesner, who goes by the name Lucien Greaves, said in a statement.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas (ACLU) has also threatened to file suit over the matter.
“At a time when we do not need any more religious conflict and divisiveness in the world and in this country, it violates the First Amendment promise of religious liberty to all,” Executive Director Rita Sklar told NPR.
“By placing a monument to a particular set of religious beliefs, it appears that the state enforces one particular set of beliefs over others and over no religion. And it makes people who fall into those categories—no religion or other religion–feel like second-class citizens in the state of Arkansas, which they are not,” she opined.
Statesman Alexander Hamilton wrote to the Royal Danish American Gazette in 1772, “He who gave the winds to blow, and the lightnings to rage—even Him have I always loved and served. His precepts have I observed. His commandments have I obeyed—and His perfections have I adored.”