Man destroys new Ten Commandments statue at Arkansas Capitol
28 June, 2017, 19:28 | Author: Mae Harvey
The bill, the Arkansas Ten Commandments Monument Act 1231, was passed in April, 2015, despite opposition that has continued until this year. Video from CNN affiliate KATV-TV in Little Rock showed the large stone slab was knocked off its base and cracked into at least three pieces.
"Whatever they may say, the defenders of the Ten Commandments monument, the fact is the text of the Ten Commandments can not be separated from its religious significance as the text calls individuals to adhere to moral precepts and uniquely religious obligations", Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, said. That driver was also identified as Michael T. Reed of Van Buren, Ark.
Powell said it's not clear if the monument will be restored since it was privately funded. He was admitted to a hospital the next day for mental treatment and not formally charged, The Associated Press reports.
"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".
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. The monument was built with private funds from the Heritage Foundation and Rapert said he doesn't expect any problems raising the additional funds needed for its replacement.
In Little Rock, investigators believe Reed recorded himself as he drove into the statue, Powell said.
Nonetheless, the Arkansas law anticipates legal challenges: "In the event that the legality or constitutionality of the monument.is challenged in a court of law", it says, the Attorney General may either "prepare and present a legal defense of the monument" or hire Liberty Institute to do so.
Sklar says the ACLU of Arkansas has won similar battles over the Ten Commandments in classrooms and courtrooms, and she says the Van Ordendecision doesn't protect the new monument at the state capitol, either. "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".
Powell told CNN on Tuesday the secretary of state's office set up a hotline for comments on the display, with 142 for the monument and 65 against it.
State Sen. Jason Rapert (R) sponsored a 2015 law to erect the controversial 6-foot-tall monument on state grounds. It was installed Tuesday morning on the southwest lawn of the Capitol with little fanfare and no advance notice.
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