Montana man brings down Ten Commandments monument with chain and a pickup truck, arrested
Anthony Weimer was booked into jail and charged with a felony criminal mischief following the incident that took place in Kalispell
KALISPELL, MONTANA: Montana Police have arrested a man who they believe pulled down a courthouse Ten Commandments monument using a chain and a pickup truck.
According to reports, the accused, Anthony Weimer, was booked into jail and charged with a felony criminal mischief following the incident that took place in Kalispell, KHQ revealed. The authorities shared that they had responded to callers who reported seeing a man wandering around the grounds of the Flathead County Courthouse. The callers saw the accused attach a chain to a pickup truck before taking down the monument, NY Post reports. The police were able to locate the truck and find the suspect and arrest him. The authorities said they do not know what provoked the act.
As reported by the Associated Press back in 2011, the Kalispell City Council had been asked to take possession of the monument in addition to six others, which included some historical texts from the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence. The monuments formed a 'cornerstone of law' display. The council declined, fearing a lawsuit on First Amendment separation of church and state grounds. It is also reported that the Fraternal Order of the Eagles had handed the Ten Commandments statue over to the Flathead County in 1950. It was then placed outside the courthouse. The group then took possession of the monument again in 2011 when the monuments had become the target of a legal challenge. The monument was eventually moved to the southwest corner during a courthouse renovation.
Recently, POTUS Donald Trump signed an executive order on June 26 to protect federal monuments after several incidents involved vandalism of statues. Trump took to Twitter to say, "I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues — and combatting recent Criminal Violence. Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country!"
The order that was signed by Trump reinforces the already existing federal law that criminalizes the destruction of federal monuments. The Veteran's Memorials Preservation and Recognition Act of 2003 looks to impose a fine and 10 years in prison on anyone who vandalizes a monument. According to the order, "Individuals and organizations have the right to peacefully advocate for either the removal or the construction of any monument. But no individual or group has the right to damage, deface, or remove any monument by use of force." The order also threatens to withhold federal funding from state and law enforcement agencies who "fail to protect monuments, memorials and statues".
We had earlier shared that Trump took to Twitter on June 23 to announce that anyone who vandalizes public statues could face 10 years in jail. "I have authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the US with up to 10 years in prison, per the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act, or such other laws that may be pertinent." He added, "This action is taken immediately, but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused. There will be no exceptions!"