A rural Georgian monument that some conservative Christians have criticized as satanic and others have dubbed ‘America’s Stonehenge’ was shelled before dawn on Wednesday in an attack that shattered one of its four granite panels in rubble.
The Georgia Guidestones monument near Elberton was damaged by an explosive device, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said. The Elbert County Emergency Management Agency said the explosion was seen on video cameras shortly after 4 a.m. Aerial images and video show the destroyed sign on the ground.
The GBI released surveillance video late Wednesday showing the violent explosion and a silver sedan speeding away from the scene. Investigators are asking the public for help in identifying the perpetrators. No suspicious description, or possible motive, has been released. It is unclear how many suspects may have been involved.
After previous acts of vandalism, video cameras connected to the county’s emergency dispatch center were stationed at the site, said Chris Kubas, executive vice president of the Elbert Granite Association.
The enigmatic roadside attraction was built in 1980 from local granite, commissioned by an unknown person or group under the pseudonym of RC Christian.
“It gives the guides a kind of shroud of mystery around them, because the identity and intent of the people who ordered them are unknown,” said Katie McCarthy, who studies conspiracy theories for the Anti- Defamation League. “And that has helped fuel a lot of speculation and conspiracy theories over the years about the guides’ true intent.”
The 16-foot-tall panels carry a 10-part message in eight different languages with advice for living to an “age of reason”. One part calls for keeping the world’s population at 500 million or less, while another calls for “guiding reproduction wisely – by improving fitness and diversity”.
It also serves as a sundial and astronomical calendar. But it was the panels’ mention of eugenics, population control and world government that made them the target of far-right conspirators.
The monument’s notoriety took off with the rise of the internet, Kubas said, until it became a roadside tourist attraction, with thousands of visitors each year.
The site received renewed attention during the Georgia gubernatorial primary on May 24 when third-place Republican candidate Kandiss Taylor claimed the Guiding Stones were satanic and made tearing them down part of her platform. form. Comedian John Oliver introduced the Guides and Taylor in a late May segment. McCarthy said right-wing figures, including Alex Jones, had talked about it in previous years, but “kind of got back on the public radar” because of Taylor.
“God is God alone. He can do ANYTHING he wants,” Taylor wrote on social media on Wednesday. “This includes eliminating Satanic Guidestones.”
The monument had been vandalized before, including when it was spray painted in 2008 and 2014, McCarthy said. She said the bombing is another example of how conspiracy theories “have and can have an impact in the real world”.
“We’ve seen that with QAnon and several other conspiracy theories, that those ideas can cause someone to try to take action to advance those beliefs,” McCarthy said. “They may try to target people and institutions that are at the center of these false beliefs.”
Kubas and many other people interpret the stones as a sort of guide to rebuilding society after an apocalypse.
“It’s up to your own interpretation of how you want to see them,” Kubas said.
The site is about 7 miles north of Elberton and about 90 miles east of Atlanta, near the South Carolina border. Granite mining is a prominent local industry, employing around 2,000 people in the region, Kubas said.
Elbert County Sheriff’s Deputies, Elberton Police and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are among the agencies trying to figure out what happened. Bomb Squad technicians were called in to search for evidence and a national road that passes close to the site was closed for some time.
Kubas said the association helped eliminate previous vandalism and will likely seek to stabilize the damage. He said local officials and community leaders may have to decide who, if anyone, will pay for catering.
“If you didn’t like it, you didn’t have to come see it and read it,” Kubas said. “But unfortunately someone decided they didn’t want anyone to read it.”
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