LITTLE ROCK — A Van Buren man was arrested early Wednesday after he allegedly drove his car into the Ten Commandments monument at the Arkansas state Capitol, smashing the 6-foot-tall granite marker to pieces less than 24 hours after it was installed.
Michael Tate Reed II, 32, was taken into custody by a Capitol Police officer who witnessed the 4:47 a.m. incident, according to Chris Powell, spokesman for Secretary of State Mark Martin, whose duties include maintaining the Capitol grounds.
Powell said the vehicle that struck the monument was a 2016 Dodge Dart. Reed was taken to a local hospital and checked for injuries, then taken to the Pulaski County Detention Center, where he was booked on suspicion of defacing an object of public interest and first-degree criminal mischief, both felonies, and trespassing on state Capitol grounds, a misdemeanor.
A video posted live to Reed’s Facebook page at the time of the incident appears to give a view from the vehicle approaching the monument but goes black at the moment of impact.
“Oh my goodness. Freedom!” a male voice says in the video.
In a video posted to Reed’s Facebook page just before that one, he faces the camera and says he believes in obeying the commands of God, “but one thing I do not support is the violation of our constitutional right to have the freedom that guarantees us separation of church and state, because no one religion should the government represent.”
Reed also says he is “back at it again with the white plan.” He says he will be using his 2016 Dodge Dart and urges people who support him to contribute to a GoFundMe campaign to help him buy another car to replace it.
In October 2014, Reed was arrested after destroying a Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma state Capitol by driving a truck into it. That monument was replaced, but last year it was removed after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that it violated the state’s constitution.
According to the Tulsa World, Reed has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. That paper reported that he also threatened President Barack Obama, set money on fire and spit on pictures in a federal building.
The Arkansas monument was paid for with donated funds by the American Heritage History Foundation and installed Tuesday morning. In 2015, the Arkansas Legislature and Gov. Asa Hutchinson approved legislation by Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, requiring the state to allow a Ten Commandments monument to be installed on Capitol grounds at private expense.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas said Tuesday it would sue to have the monument removed, saying it violates the First Amendment prohibition against government endorsement of religion.