Haters: 10 Commandment Monument Located Across From Supreme Court Knocked Down

A stone monument of the Ten Commandments that sits across the street from the  U.S. Supreme Court was toppled by vandals over the weekend. The 3-by-3-foot monument, which weighs 850 pounds, sits in front of the  headquarters of the evangelical Christian group Faith and Action.

“We’re confounded, absolutely mystified, how a collection of people could get  away with this kind of damage,” said the Rev. Rob  Schenck, who leads the Christian group. “The Ten Commandments is something  that unites people. It’s disappointing to say the least. Heartbreaking — that’s  the word I used with my staff.”

Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Officer Anthony Clay said the  vandalism occurred sometime Saturday and police had no suspects as of  Monday.

The organization’s headquarters, at 109 Second St. NE, is on a block  protected by U.S. Capitol Police, D.C. police, and a guard house near the Supreme  Court building that is staffed 24 hours a day.

The fallen monument was discovered Saturday when a neighboring minister  walked past the site and noticed the granite slab lying face down in the front  yard. He reported the damage to one of the organization’s staff members.

Peggy Nienaber, the chief of program  with Faith and Action, said a “For Rent” sign was  placed facing the toppled sculpture, and an in-ground light that normally  illuminates the monument at night was torn out.

Mr. Schenck said he spoke with the  monument’s engineer, who said it would have taken leverage and a “herculean  amount of strength” to wrench the stone off its base and bend a steel  reinforcing rod so the monument could fall forward.

“We made sure it exceeded code requirements,” Mr. Schenck said of the monument’s construction.  “It’s a very heavy piece of stone and we didn’t want anyone injured by it. We’ve  done everything possible to make sure it’s very secure.”

In fact, when the monument was first erected in 2006, Mr.  Schenck said it took an eight-man crew, a truck, and heavy lifting equipment  to position the stone.

A contractor has been called in to estimate the cost of repairing and  restoring the stone, Mr. Schenck said.

“Now we know it can be bent over, we have to figure out a way to strengthen  its structure,” he said. “We’re also concerned if we unbend the rod in the  middle, it may crack the monument, and that monument has a lot of  significance.”

The sculpture was one of four that were ordered removed by a federal court  from high schools in the Adams County/Ohio Valley School District in Ohio in  June 2002. The Faith and Action group won one of  the sculptures at a charity auction, and when it was delivered to the District  it was put in the backyard, out of public view, while the organization worked to  secure a permit to display it on the front lawn.

The D.C. government initially said the group needed a permit to erect the  monument because yards in Capitol Hill and other historic districts are  considered public land. Officials threatened the Christian group with $300-a-day  fines and possible forced sale of the property.

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