10 Commandments Monument removed under cover of darkness

OKLAHOMA CITY — Under the cover of darkness surrounded by armed security, government workers removed the Ten Commandments Monument from the State Capitol Monday night.

The liberal Oklahoma Supreme Court had ordered its removal because the justices believe no religious symbols can be displayed on public property.

Earlier on Monday, barricades were placed around the monument. A large number of members of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol stood guard as workers lifted the monument and hauled it away to the nearby offices of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (1401 N. Lincoln Blvd.), which promised to take care of it until legislators can find a way to have it returned to the Capitol grounds.

Protesters watched and asked why this wasn’t being done in the daylight. A group of pastors in Oklahoma had promised to surround the monument if they tried to move it but they were not informed of the clandestine action.

John Estus of the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services, said the decision to move it secretly at night to minimize disruptions.

State Rep. Mike Ritze and his family paid for the monument and the bill that authorized its placement was signed by former Gov. Brad Henry. Polls show that more than 70 percent of Oklahomans want the monument to stay at the Capitol.

The state still owns the monument. It cost more than $4,000 to move it.