Workers began removing a Ten Commandments monument from the grounds of the Oklahoma Capitol late Monday in accordance with a court order.
The Daily Oklahoman reported that the 6-foot high monument would be reinstalled outside the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank.
A contractor hired by the state began removing the monument shortly after 10:30 p.m. local time. The works comes after the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision in June that the display violates a state constitutional prohibition on the use of public property to support “any sect, church, denomination or system of religion.”
The state is paying the contractor about $4,700 to remove the monument and take it to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs’ offices a few blocks away, Office of Management and Enterprise Services spokesman John Estus told the Associated Press.
The Daily Oklahoman reported that the private contractor was hired to move the 4,800-pound monument out of concern that state workers could not safely do the job without damaging or destroying it.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol had increased security around the monument earlier Monday, and barriers were erected to keep visitors from getting close to it. Estus said the decision to remove the monument under the cover of darkness was made to avoid disturbing workers at the Capitol and to keep protesters from demonstrating while heavy equipment was being used to detach the two-ton monument from its base.
“We wanted it to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible, and doing it at night gave us the best opportunity to do that,” Estus said. “The Highway Patrol was also very concerned that having it in the middle of the day could lead to having demonstrations of some kind.”