After hitting a similar statue in Oklahoma three years ago, a man has driven his car into and toppled a new Ten Commandments monument in Arkansas. His motives were unclear.
Michael Tate Reed was booked on preliminary charges of defacing objects of public interest, criminal trespass and first-degree criminal mischief on Wednesday.
The 32-year-old is suspected of having shouted "freedom" as he crashed his car into the statue outside the state Capitol building (photo) in the city of Little Rock in the southern US state of Arkansas in the early hours of Wednesday. The debris had been cleaned up by midmorning.
Investigators believe a video of the incident was posted on Facebook but it showed only darkness and the sound of a radio before a male voice said "freedom" and the car came to a stop as the statue collapsed after the noise of a collision.
The Arkansas arrest report said a police officer around 4:45 a.m. local time spotted a dark-colored vehicle "start from a stopped position and ram the Ten Commandments monument."
The monument had been in place for less than 24 hours. The 6-foot (1.82-meter) high, 6,000-pound (2,721-kilogram) granite statue funded through $26,000 (22,850 euros) in private donations had only been installed on Tuesday on the southwest lawn of the Capitol with little fanfare and no advance notice.
State Senator 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" but he added that a new statue had already been ordered.
The American Civil Liberties Union had said on Tuesday that it planned to file a federal lawsuit challenging the monument, calling it an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. The First Amendment to the US Constitution states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
Three years ago, Reed, who was registered as unemployed, was arrested for the destruction of Oklahoma's Ten Commandments monument at its state Capitol in Oklahoma City.
Authorities said Reed had also made threats against former President Barack Obama, set fire to money and walked into a federal building to spit on pictures, according to a report in the Tulsa World newspaper.
He is believed to be under medical supervision and reportedly wrote to the newspaper apologizing for running into the Oklahoma statue, saying voices in his head had become his norm.
"I am so sorry that this all happening and wished I could take it all back," Reed reportedly wrote.
jm/sms (AP, AFP)