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Arrest made after Ten Commandments monument at Arkansas Capitol toppled, shattered

By Emma Pettit

This article was originally published June 28, 2017 at 6:34 a.m. Updated June 28, 2017 at 1:18 p.m.


Michael Tate Reed, 32, of Van Buren and the Ten Commandments statue he is accused of knocking over with his vehicle.

Photos by Emma Pettit
Click here for larger versions

A 6-foot-tall stone Ten Commandments monument installed Tuesday on the Arkansas Capitol grounds was toppled less than 24 hours later after a 32-year-old Arkansas man drove a vehicle into the statue, apparently while streaming the act live on Facebook, officials said.

Chris Powell, a spokesman with the secretary of state's office, said he was called early Wednesday and told a man drove a vehicle through the monument. That driver — identified in an arrest report as Michael Tate Reed of Van Buren — was arrested by Capitol police shortly after, Powell said. News reports indicate Reed was previously accused of destroying a Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma.

The Arkansas arrest report said an officer around 4:45 a.m. spotted a dark-colored vehicle "start from a stopped position and ram the Ten Commandments monument."

"I immediately exited my vehicle and placed the subject in custody," Cpl. Chad Durham wrote, noting Reed was first taken to a local hospital before being booked into the Pulaski County jail.

The arrest report for Reed listed "unemployed/disabled" under occupation.

Reed, who was lodged in the jail shortly after 7:30 a.m., faces charges of defacing objects of public respect, trespassing on Capitol grounds and first-degree criminal mischief, according to the report. He was being held without bail pending an initial court appearance.

It was “absolutely” a shock to get the call about what happened, Powell said.

“We had some concerns, just because this was such a highly charged issue with some people,” Powell said.

Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, who sponsored the 2015 law to erect the monument on state grounds, called the statue's destruction "an act of violence."

Rapert told reporters at a news conference later Wednesday that a new statue has already been ordered. He called on elected officials to take a stand against violence, and against people “using weapons to destroy things” based on differences in viewpoints.

[FULL STORY: Arkansas legislator: New statue already ordered to replace Ten Commandments]

“That’s the same hatred, that’s the same motivation that motives somebody to put on a mask and take a bat and go to a college campus and attack somebody who is standing there exercising their free speech rights,” he said, later referencing the shooting at a congressional baseball practice in Virginia.

Rapert went on to say that groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, which called for court action to take down the monument, can “stir and foment hatred and violence that will get unstable people to do what's been done here today.” The senator also said the news media holds some responsibility for spurring hate.

“You can't light a fuse and walk away and say you're not responsible for the explosion,” Rapert said.

Video appears to show destruction

Investigators believe Reed recorded himself as he drove into the statue in Little Rock, the secretary of state's office official said.

In a Facebook Live video to an account under the name Michael Reed, a driver appears to shine his headlights on the monument and shouts, “Freedom!” as he drives toward it. As the vehicle hits the granite, the video cuts out.

In another Facebook video posted early Wednesday, a man who called himself Michael Reed described his beliefs in both Jesus and the separation of church and state. He spoke from a seat in a 2016 Dodge Dart.

“I'm a firm believer that part of salvation is that we not only have faith in Jesus Christ but we obey the commands of God, and that we confess Jesus as Lord,” he said in the video. “But one thing I do not support is the violation of our Constitutional right to have the freedom that's guaranteed to us, that guarantees us the separation of church and state.”

There's “no one religion” that the government should represent, the man said.

In a different video posted earlier, the same man said he had to “confess my sin.”

“I made a promise that I very much intended to keep that I would go get help if things didn't happen the way I thought they would,” he said.

“Now my plans is this,” he later added. “I'm taking a sabbatical. I'm going to go, I'm leaving this place, and I'm gonna see God more and just trust in him.”

The man also described interactions with police and medical personnel before Wednesday morning's wreck. He said in a Facebook post if his plans were not carried out the way he wanted, he would return to a hospital.

Oklahoma case

On Oct. 24, 2014, a then-29-year-old Michael Tate Reed was accused of ramming his truck into a Ten Commandments statue of a similar design at the Oklahoma state Capitol in Oklahoma City, the Tulsa World reported. Authorities said he also made threats against President Barack Obama, lit money on fire and walked into a federal building to spit on pictures, the paper reported.

Reed was reportedly diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder after being taken to a mental facility for evaluation following the crash. He was released from Norman's Griffin Memorial Hospital in January 2015 under an agreement with the Oklahoma County district attorney's office for continued treatment and therapy.

In an email to the newspaper, Reed reportedly said how voices in his head became his norm and apologized for running into the statue.

“I am so sorry that this all happening and wished I could take it all back,” Reed reportedly wrote.

Cleanup in Arkansas

The busted pieces of the granite monolith were seen inside a taped-off barrier near the walkway to the Justice Building before 7 a.m. Wednesday. A set of tire tracks were visible in the grass on the western side of the small slope on which the statue sat.

Capitol crews later worked to clean up the hunks of granite. One employee drove a John Deere tractor as three other men discussed how to hoist one of the larger broken blocks onto a wooden platform to be hauled away.

A few people driving by on their way to work on Capitol grounds pulled over to take photos and shout questions out their car windows about what happened.

The push for the monument was led by Rapert.

"It's always good to see things fulfilled, and I think it's a great day for the people of Arkansas," he said in an interview Tuesday.

The monument was paid for by more than $26,000 in private donations.

Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

The Associated Press and Arkansas Online reporter Brandon Riddle contributed to this story.


Comments on: Arrest made after Ten Commandments monument at Arkansas Capitol toppled, shattered

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Emdee says... June 28, 2017 at 7:58 p.m.

Interestingly, the only "10 Commandments" referred to in Exodus is the final rendition of the tablets. If the public-property display advocates *really* read their bibles, they would be aware of this. These are the 10 Commandments that were placed in the Ark of the Covenant, ya'll:
I. Thou shalt worship no other god.
II. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
III. The feast of unleavened bread thou shalt keep.
IV. Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest.
V. Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest,
and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.
VI. Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God.
VII. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven.
VIII. Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.
IX. The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God.
X. Thou shalt not seethe a kid goat in his mother’s milk.

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23cal says... June 28, 2017 at 8:33 p.m.

arkateacher54: About "rights" or opinions of the anti-Christs" and "acts and words of the non-believers". For a teacher, you sure do have reading comprehension problems. The perp claims to be a born-again Christian. In the article he is quoted as " I'm gonna see God more and just trust in him” and "I'm a firm believer that part of salvation is that we not only have faith in Jesus Christ but we obey the commands of God, and that we confess Jesus as Lord,”. Maybe you need to put the blame where it belongs, on another Christian whackjob.
epeeking: About "I am greatly comforted knowing that this person and others like him will end up burning in HELL!!!" "Others like him" would be those who claim to be born again Christians, like him?
Gohogs: About "Guess all you atheists, free-thinkers and godless people are now delighted with this." Reading comprehension isn't your strong suit is it? Most of the non-Christians and people who abhor your backward version are calling it out as wrong, as do I. Don't let facts interrupt your hatred.
Well, rather than continue calling out the haters individually and people who are just looking for any excuse to spew their mean-spirited angst and hatred against people who don't buy their superstition...the perp is a nut. He is diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, and claims to be a born again Christian.
And, remember....God works in mysterious ways.Maybe he wants you extremists to obey what it says in Romans: "Romans 13: 1 Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God. 2 So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow." Separation of church and state has been established constitutional law of the land for quite some time now.

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Packman says... June 28, 2017 at 8:54 p.m.

Looks like we need an 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not be a liberal Christian hating loser.

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23cal says... June 28, 2017 at 9:39 p.m.

Whippersnapper: About "It's funny - I don't hear anybody who is complaining about this monument having been erected complaining about the fact that Moses holding the 10 commandments is at the center (and is the largest figure) in the pediment over the entrance to the U.S. Supreme Court and has been there for over 80 years. (he's also in a frieze in the courtroom itself)"
You're too smart for something like this. You have been the victim of religious right propaganda.
1. Moses on the pediment is in the midst of a group of LAWGIVERS, including Confucius and Solon (surrounded by several allegorical figures representing a variety of legal themes). Moses's tablets are BLANK. It isn't a monument to Moses/Christianity, it is a monument to LAWGIVERS, which is certainly appropriate in a court. Had it been SOLELY Moses, you would have a point. It isn't and you don't. By the way, relative sizes of the figures are close enough that it doesn't really matter.
2.The pediment isn't over the front entrance. It appears on the eastern pediment of the Supreme Court building. (The eastern pediment is the back of the Supreme Court building, so this sculpture is not something one would see walking up the steps to the building which houses the Supreme Court. The front entrance is on the western side.)
3. The wall “right above where the Supreme Court judges sit” is the east wall, on which is displayed a frieze designed by sculptor Adolph A. Weinman. The frieze features two male figures who represent the Majesty of Law and the Power of Government, flanked on the left side by a group of figures representing Wisdom, and on the right side by a group of figures representing Justice (not Moses). In a letter on file in the archives of the Supreme Court, Adolph Weinman, the designer of this frieze, states that the tablet visible between the two central male figures, engraved with the Roman numerals I through X, represents not the Ten Commandments but the first “ten amendments to the Constitution known as the ‘Bill of Rights.'”
htt p://w m/politics/religion/ p

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BirdDogsRock says... June 28, 2017 at 10:20 p.m.

I don't condone what Reed did. I would prefer that the legislature have used its god-given brains to figure out that erecting this monument on public grounds is wrong; or that the Governor would have vetoed the legislation authorizing this monument on public grounds; or that the courts would have corrected the wrong of erecting this monument on public grounds.
But I am left wondering what kind of omnipotent god can't even protect its monument from being crushed by a Dodge?

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nonaubizness says... June 29, 2017 at 12:18 a.m.


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MikeNichols says... June 29, 2017 at 2:04 a.m.

I assume, unlike other laws, if a Bill is approved for harsher penalties against people using force or violence to enact their own political or personal will (which is actually Domestic Terrorism), it will also pertain to the destruction of homeless people's belongings?

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mrcharles says... June 29, 2017 at 10 a.m.

Emdee, good work.

Was the deity given the jews to overlord by the most high an insecure deity as on the idol that was smashed the first 4 were concerned with his vanity, oh vanity all is vanity.

That there 5th one on the broken idol, which was an injunction by the boss of bosses, so what's the big deal, may I remind you of the deity system , regardless of your ala carte versions, that Jesus himself , the new covenant guy said in Matthew 10 that he had come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother and other family values.

What if you steal a golden idol from your parents house after coveting your neighbors wife and his ass on the sabbath followed up by adultery , is there any hope for you.

I do note that there is not a word there about baptism [ including the question on infant baptism which causes the protestants great stress] nor is there a word about salvation through a mere belief in Mary's son, who the family did think had mental problems. Admit it you who know the will of G-d, baptism and salvation , either or is pretty important, and why would they be left out for them there wandering jews [ you do know there is no archeological evidence this great wandering ever took place- but when you believe crazy stuff what is one more delusion?]

I do believe the anti christ is in D. C, and there are wars, troubles , famine, earthquakes, moaning and groaning and broadcasting of heretical beliefs to our children. Can a deity allow this to go on much longer? Uncle Joe said he should have thought of this when he drowned all the babies and toddlers and their pet cats and dogs.

If you think about it , Wednesday must be the day of rest.

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wildblueyonder says... June 29, 2017 at 10:23 a.m.

People can claim to be anything they want, that doesn't make it true. Like you Christian hating atheists for one thing. You act as if you not only know everything, you have the answers to everything you don't. I would equate most of you (armnar, woodchuck, 23caliber, cabinetmaker, etc.) like the guy who pulled this stunt. You're all sick, evil, and hateful to anyone who might disagree with your views.

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ARMNAR says... June 29, 2017 at 10:32 a.m.

How very Christ-like your posts are, gohogs!

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