LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – A Van Buren man was arrested on Wednesday morning after running his car into a newly placed 10 Commandments statue at the Arkansas State Capitol.
32-year-old Michael Tate Reed drove through the statue around 4:47 a.m. on Wednesday while filming on his cell phone and posting it to Facebook.
According to CBS affiliate 5NEWS, Reed has a history of similar behavior, destroying a Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma. He was charged with destruction of state property or improvements, indecent exposure, making threatening statements, reckless driving and operating a vehicle with a revoked license back in 2014.
In 2015, Tulsa World reported that Reed stated his psychotic break was inspired by a Dracula film and that Michael Jackson's spirit was living inside meat. He also believed he was "the incarnation of an occult leader" and attempted to contact "Lucifer's high priestess he called Gwyneth Paltrow."
"I am so sorry that this [is] all happening and I wished I could take it all back," Reed said in a letter to Tulsa World.
Reed is being held in the Pulaski County Detention Center on charges of defacing an object of public interest, criminal trespassing and first degree criminal mischief.
The controversial 10 Commandments monument had been placed at the Arkansas State Capitol on Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours before it was destroyed.
The monument was the brainchild of State Senator Jason Rapert, who held a press conference Wednesday morning after Reed was arrested. We asked him if this situation should shed a new light on mental health in the state.
"Families have to deal with these issues. So we have to address them. But I will say on this, until I know more, I can't say that's the cause of what this guy did, because he has had many instances where he has acted out and done these things, that he was free; that he was walking around,” was his response.
According to his Facebook page, Reed is a "born again Christian" and a self-proclaimed "Pentacostal Jesus freak." Senator Rapert pointed fingers at groups that have opposed the monument’s placement.
"What culpability do some of these groups have when they threaten to tear down the monument? The ACLU, the Freethinkers Society, the Satanic Temple. I've seen 24-48 hours of threats. They're going to promise to take it down. What culpability do they have to hold their rhetoric down? And not stir and ferment hatred and violence that will get unstable people to do what's done here’” Rapert said.
All three of those groups told us they'd never incite violence and would rather see justice come from the court.
"Jason Rapert is contextualizing this to his own convenience, and he's doing so in a very dishonest way. For him to ironically claim incitement on our side, when he's using that type of rhetoric himself, obviously, he's trying to cement a great deal of ire against the organization," said Lucien Graves, spokesperson for the Satanic Temple.
"Having the monument removed, going through the legal system to do it, is so much sweeter than the person who put up the violation, is ordered them by law, by a judge to go and them remove that violation by themselves. That's the high road the Freethinkers would like to pursue, if there's a replacement put back up here at the Capitol,” echoed Leewood Thomas, of the Arkansas Freethinkers Society.
“We strongly condemn any illegal act of destruction or vandalism. The ACLU remains committed to seeing this unconstitutional monument struck down by the courts and safely removed through legal means,” explained Rita Sklar, Executive Director of ACLU of Arkansas, in a written statement.
Reed is set to have a video arraignment hearing on Thursday at 8:30 a.m.
Stay with THV11 and thv11.com for more details as they become available.
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