New Ten Commandments monument ready for Arkansas Capitol after first one destroyed

Posted: October 26, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

FILE — State Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, who sponsored the legislation that led to installation of the Ten Commandments monument on the state Capitol grounds, speaks in front of it on June 27. That monument was destroyed hours later, but Rapert says a new version has been completed and is ready to be installed.

Work was completed this week on a Ten Commandments monument that will replace the original monolith, which was destroyed within hours of being erected at the state Capitol earlier this year.

Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, said Wednesday afternoon that he received confirmation "about a day or two ago" that the latest iteration of the monument was finished.

"Obviously, we're ready to go as soon as possible," Rapert said of installing the new 6,000-pound, 6-foot-tall marker on state Capitol grounds. "My hope is for it to be up in a matter of weeks."

Rapert said the last remaining step is for the Arkansas secretary of state's office to sign off on the re-installation.

Photos by Emma Pettit
Click here for larger versions

The original monument was installed June 27 near the Arkansas Supreme Court building but was toppled less than 24 hours later when Michael Reed, 32, of Van Buren barreled into it with his vehicle in the early morning hours of June 28, authorities said.

The monument shattered into three large pieces and countless smaller shards, and the act was captured on Facebook Live.

Reed, accused of also destroying a similar monolith in Oklahoma, was arrested by Capitol police a short time later.

He faces charges of defacing objects of public respect, trespassing on Capitol grounds and first-degree criminal mischief. He remained at the Pulaski County jail as of Wednesday afternoon.

The Ten Commandments monument is being paid for using private funds.

In July, the executive producers of the God's Not Dead movie series donated $25,000 toward the effort. They are currently filming the series' third installment in the Little Rock area.

Rapert sponsored a 2015 law to erect the monument on the grounds. He called the destruction "an act of violence" and urged elected officials to take a stand against such acts.

The state senator said he hopes additional safeguards will be put into place to prevent damage to the latest monument.

Rapert said additional security measures could include steel-and-concrete posts similar to those surrounding the Little Rock Nine monument.

"Since we have seen someone cross that line, we want to be wise," he said.

State Desk on 10/26/2017