KALISPELL, Montana, July 1, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Police have arrested 30-year-old Anthony Weimer for pulling down a statue of the Ten Commandments outside Flathead County Courthouse in northeastern Montana.
“The Kalispell Police Department said calls came in on Saturday that a male was on the Flathead County Courthouse grounds, and appeared to be wrapping a chain around the Ten Commandments monument,” reported the local NBC station. “Officials say those callers saw the man attach the chain to a pickup truck, and then pull the monument into the street. Police say the man reportedly removed the chain, then got into the truck and left the scene.”
The officers were later able to find the truck used to tear down the statue, and then arrested the subject, who now faces a felony charge of criminal mischief.
It is not yet known why Weimer tore down the statue. According to local newspaper Flathead Beacon, “Kalispell Chief of Police Doug Overman said his office has ‘no evidence’ that Weimer’s action is connected to any protest movement.”
Even in remote Flathead Count, with less than 20 inhabitants per square mile, “a number of heavily armed people surrounded the Veterans Memorial in Kalispell’s Deport Park to protect it from vandals who never arrived, and a small group of Black Lives Matters protesters had previously gathered outside the old Flathead County Courthouse, where the statue pulled down on Saturday was located.”
A local chapter of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, the Flathead Beacon reported, gave the statue of the Ten Commandments to Flathead County in 1950.
The religious display was challenged decades later, “and a group of local Eagles, led by Fred Bryant, raised money to purchase six other monuments that would include historical texts like the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights alongside the 10 Commandments. This made the monuments a ‘cornerstone of law’ display, which could be considered admissible following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2005.”
In recent weeks, several statues with religious connotations have been torn down, usually in connection with the Black Lives Matter riots.
Rioters have pulled down and desecrated statues of St. Junipero Serra in San Francisco and Los Angeles, after local authorities in Los Angeles approved the removal of another of his statues outside Ventura City Hall.
In June, the Los Angeles Times reported that Ventura Mayor Matt LaVere, along with representatives from the Barbareño/Venureño Band of Mission Indians and Father Tom Elewaut, a Catholic priest based at the San Buenaventura Mission in Ventura, had issued a joint statement agreeing to take down the statue of Serra outside Ventura City Hall and have it “moved to a more appropriate non-public location.”
On Olvera Street in Los Angeles, 100 people reportedly helped to topple a statue of the missionary saint with ropes. In a video of the incident, one participant can be heard saying “this is for our ancestors” as the statue came crashing down.
Natives just tore down the statue of Junipero Serra at Placita Olvera in solidarity with #BLMprotest #antiracism #antislavery pic.twitter.com/8ZDdv7vej7
— L.A. TACO ���� (@LATACO) June 20, 2020
In Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, activists pulled down another statue of St. Junipero Serra. A video of the incident shows those in attendance cheering as the statue is toppled. One person can be seen hitting the statue with their fists and another person hitting it with a skateboard once it has fallen to the ground.
Activists just toppled the Junipero Serra statue in Golden Gate Park here in San Francisco
Now they’re onto Francis Scott Key, slave owner and writer of the Star Spangled Banner pic.twitter.com/Ykv0hFMZvK
— Joe Rivano Barros (@jrivanob) June 20, 2020
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone asked, “What is happening to our society?”
“A renewed national movement to heal memories and correct the injustices of racism and police brutality in our country has been hijacked by some into a movement of violence, looting and vandalism,” Cordileone continued, spelling out what happened during many of the protests.
Tearing down the statue of Junipero Serra “was mob rule,” the archbishop said, “a troubling phenomenon that seems to be repeating itself throughout the country.”
“Our dear city bears the name of one of history’s most iconic figures of peace and goodwill: St. Francis of Assisi,” Cordileone explained. “For the past 800 years, the various Franciscan orders of brothers, sisters and priests that trace their inspiration back to him have been exemplary of not only serving, but identifying with, the poor and downtrodden and giving them their rightful dignity as children of God. St. Junipero Serra is no exception.”
In St. Louis, Catholic priest Father Stephen Schumacher preached to hundreds of angry protestors while defending a statue of St. Louis in the city named after the sainted king on a day when Catholic laity praying at the statue were physically attacked by rioters.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis published a statement which insisted that St. Louis represented peace and respect for one’s neighbor.
“The history of the statue of St. Louis, the King is one founded in piety and reverence before God, and for non-believers, respect for one’s neighbor. The reforms that St. Louis implemented in French government focused on impartial justice, protecting the rights of his subjects, steep penalties for royal officials abusing power, and a series of initiatives to help the poor,” the archdiocese said.
“King Louis IX’s renowned work in charity helped elevate him to Sainthood. His daily suppers were shared with numerous beggars, whom he invited to the royal table. On many evenings, he would not let them leave before he washed their feet. He personally paid to feed more than 100 poor Parisians every day. His care for the sick was equally moving; St. Louis frequently ministered to lepers. He also created a number of hospitals, including one for the blind and another for ex-prostitutes,” the statement continued.
Shaun King, a leading voice in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, best known for claiming to be half-black despite both parents on his birth certificate being listed as white, had even declared that statues, murals, and stained-glass windows depicting Jesus as white should be taken down for being “form[s] of white supremacy,” meant to be “tools of oppression” and “racist propaganda”.
Bishop Donald J. Hying of Madison, Wisconsin, said that “as a shepherd of the Church,” he “cannot remain silent” in the face of a call by a Black Lives Matter activist to destroy representations of Jesus Christ.
“I need to denounce such a call to violence and destruction,” Bishop Hying wrote in a letter dated June 23.
“Our statues, pictures, stained-glass windows, churches, icons, and devotions are holy to us,” Bishop Hying explained. “They are sacramentals, blessed and sacred, visible expressions of the love of God, poured out in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and made manifest in the saints. They remind us of God, His love for us in Christ, and the nearness of the divine.”