OKLAHOMA CITY — A Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma Capitol grounds that was destroyed by a man who drove into it was replaced Thursday with an exact replica.
Workers used a large crane to move the 2,400-pound granite monument onto its repaired base on a staircase landing outside the Capitol building.
"While the destruction of the original monument was tragic, this replacement is identical in every respect, and we look forward to it standing the test of time," said Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, whose family commissioned the original monument for $10,000.
Gary Mosier of Wilbert Memorials, which rebuilt the 6-foot-tall headstone-like monument, said the granite came from a quarry in South Dakota. The design, which is an exact replica of a monument at the Texas Capitol, was added at the company's facility in Kansas. Mosier said the company fronted the cost for the new monument, and Ritze said he's raising the money privately to reimburse the company.
The monument, which is at the center of a lawsuit, was smashed into pieces in October when someone drove a car across the Capitol lawn and crashed into it. A 29-year-old man was arrested the next day after he showed up at a federal building in Oklahoma City, spit on a picture of President Barack Obama and acknowledged destroying the monument, according to a police report. The man was admitted to a hospital for mental health treatment, and formal charges were never filed.
The original monument was erected in 2012 after a bill authorizing it was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed into law by then-Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat. A Norman man has sued to have it removed, saying it violates the state constitution's prohibition against using public property to support "any sect, church, denomination or system of religion." The case is pending before the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Other groups have also asked to erect their own monuments on the Capitol grounds, including a satanic group that wants to put up a 7-foot-tall statue that depicts Satan as Baphomet, a goat-headed figure with horns, wings and a long beard. A Hindu leader in Nevada, an animal rights group and the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster have also made requests.