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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

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.

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

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kevinschneider says... June 28, 2017 at 11:28 a.m.

"christians" have enjoyed VERY special treatment for a couple hundred years, it is way past time to remedy that disparity. Faith is a pisspoor substitute for thinking.

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independentlythinking says... June 28, 2017 at 11:34 a.m.

Indeed!!!

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DEE672 says... June 28, 2017 at 11:44 a.m.

Speaking of special privileges for religion, when will they finally tax churches on their income the way they make every other business pay. What a boon to fixing the deficit!! The money we can collect from cable evangelical preachers would be enormous. Tax the Baptists, and the huge money making Catholic church. I think I read the Catholic church is the 3rd largest business in the world where money making is concerned.

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tomrob says... June 28, 2017 at 11:46 a.m.

unemployed, surprise there....

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noname2u says... June 28, 2017 at 11:55 a.m.

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

Wondering if Powell has ever heard of the First Amendment. Wow, we have people who are "highly charged" about the Constitution; I thought that was supposed to be a good thing. Maybe if there were more who were, this ridiculous monument would not have been installed on capital grounds in the first place.

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Whippersnapper says... June 28, 2017 at 12:07 p.m.

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)

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mrcharles says... June 28, 2017 at 12:08 p.m.

Is the deity subject to the second law of thermodynamics? If so IT would only have a finite lifetime.

whooper , good attempt to be one of those forgive and forget followers, but that is not how most of your type roll,---- judgment, arrogance and hate for others is their platform. Clarify for me the day and hour of the crucifixion, Please. nobody wants to answer this.

kevin they are slowly losing their power in spite of this idol they got put up. In past your comment would get you a good strangulation and then burning, for the love of your soul.

taxes are for Caesar so its not unbiblical to tax them.

I would remind EWE all who want the perpetrator or the creations of the creator made the way they were by the boss of bosses, to burn, remember tertillium mentioned the pleasure of looking down to see your family members, friends and loved ones roast and burn , that the Church called him a heretic even though he gave them the clear idea of a trinity where they had that new math that 3 equals 1.

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RBear says... June 28, 2017 at 12:11 p.m.

psmithstro, a little bit of a stretch connecting vandalism of a monument with the rights of Christians? Riding that drama queen train a little bit there eh? What's next? Because a dog urinates on it or pigeons poop on it, the rights and freedoms of Christians are being violated?

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DoubleBlind says... June 28, 2017 at 12:20 p.m.

I haven't read all the comments. I would contribute to Reed's defense if there is a go fund me page. I was only going to let my dogs pee on the abominable display. I don't agree with Reed's approach but I applaud his aplomb.

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Whippersnapper says... June 28, 2017 at 12:23 p.m.

mrcharles says... June 28, 2017 at 12:08 p.m.
"Is the deity subject to the second law of thermodynamics? If so IT would only have a finite lifetime."
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If, as I believe, God created everything, he is outside the laws of the universe (which is how He is able to perform miracles). Strangely enough, Stephen Hawking (who does not claim to be a Christian) once proved that if cause and effect exist, that something outside space and time and cause and effect must have existed and caused the Big Bang (which was actually first posited by Christians and is called the Big Bang because it was mocked by atheists)
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"whooper , good attempt to be one of those forgive and forget followers, but that is not how most of your type roll,---- judgment, arrogance and hate for others is their platform."
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Why thank you. I have met many folks who call themselves Christians who have attitudes that are clearly contradictory to Scriptures, as I am sure you have met many non-believers who have attitudes that do not represent you.
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"Clarify for me the day and hour of the crucifixion, Please. nobody wants to answer this."
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Why Chuckles, this is a straw man. Can you clarify for me the day and the hour of Emperor Maximinus I's death What about Maximinus II? How many Roman emperors exist for whom you can name the day and hour of their death (as you are asking here)? Surely if you believe that these alleged historical figures actually lived and died you can list the day and hour of all of their deaths. See how absurd your question is as an attempt to disprove the existence of Christ?

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