Michael Tate Reed describes himself as a devout Christian man. His Facebook cover photo shows him standing by a large cross, and elsewhere on his page, he proclaims “Jesus is Lord.” Reed is also apparently a firm believer in the constitutional separation of church and state. In the early morning hours of Wednesday, June 28, 2017, Reed forcefully defended that latter belief by driving his 2016 Dodge Dart into a recently unveiled Ten Commandments monument just one day after it was erected in front of the Arkansas state capitol building in Little Rock. The collision toppled the monument and shattered it into pieces.
Reed streamed the entire act to his Facebook page. While he rammed his truck into the Ten Commandments monument, Reed was listening to a Christian radio station, and he yelled the word “freedom” as he sped toward the monument inscribed with what many consider the eternal laws of God. That video can be viewed below this article.
In a video Michael Reed posted to his Facebook page just prior to his attack on the Ten Commandments monument, Reed explains the motivation behind his opposition to the Ten Commandments monument, according to Arkansas Online.
“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,” Reed 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.”
Corporal Chad Durham of the Little Rock Capitol Police arrested Reed immediately after the crash, stating that he saw the car driving around suspiciously a moment before the crash into the Ten Commandments monument. Durham said that Reed was taken to a hospital first and then moved to the jail after the hospital found no signs of serious injuries.
According to Tulsa World, this is not the first time that Michael Tate Reed had decided to destroy a Ten Commandments monument. In October 2014, Reed similarly rammed his truck into a Ten Commandments monument in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Michael Reed has a history of mental health problems, having previously been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. While few would argue that his acts of vandalism are justified, it is worth noting that the United States Supreme Court eventually ordered the Oklahoma monument be removed on the grounds that it represented a government favoring one religion over others, supporting Reed’s views on the separation of church and state.
Officials in Arkansas have not yet stated whether they will rebuild the Ten Commandments monument. Michael Reed is currently being held without bail pending his initial court appearance.
[Featured Image by Jill Zeman Bleed/AP Images]