ATLANTA ( Associated Press) — A rural Georgia monument criticized by some conservative Christians as satanic and others dubbed “America’s Stonehenge” was bombed before dawn on Wednesday in an attack that killed four of its Turned one of the granite panels into rubble.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said the Georgia Guidestone Monument near Alberton was damaged by an explosive device. The Albert County Emergency Management Agency said the explosion was seen shortly after 4 a.m. in video cameras. Images and aerial video show destroyed panels on the ground.
Chris Kubas, executive vice president of the Albert Granite Association, said that following the prior vandalism, video cameras attached to the county’s emergency dispatch center were deployed at the site.
The enigmatic roadside attraction was built in 1980 from local granite, commissioned by an unknown individual or group under the pseudonym RC Christian.
“This has given the Guidestones a kind of shroud of mystery around them, as the identities and motives of the individuals who hired them are unknown,” said Katie McCarthy, who researched conspiracy theories for the Anti-Defamation League. “And so it has helped fuel a lot of speculation and conspiracy theories about Guidestone’s true intentions.”
The 16-foot-high (5-metre-high) panels deliver a 10-part message with guidance for living in the “age of reason” in eight different languages. One part calls for keeping the world population at 500 million or less, while the other calls for “guided breeding wisely – improving fitness and diversity”.
It also serves as a solarium and astronomical calendar. But it is the panel’s mention of eugenics, population control and global government that has made them targets of far-right conspirators.
The monument’s notoriety began with the rise of the Internet, Kubass said, until it became a roadside tourist attraction, visited by thousands each year.
The site received renewed attention during Georgia’s May 24 gubernatorial primary when third-place Republican candidate Candice Taylor claimed Guidestones were diabolical and demolished part of her podium. Comedian John Oliver portrayed Guidestone and Taylor in a segment in late May. McCarthy said that right-wing celebrities, including Alex Jones, had talked about him in previous years, but because of Taylor “he came back on the public’s radar”.
“God is God in himself. He can do anything he wants to do,” Taylor wrote on social media on Wednesday. “This includes hitting the Satanic Guidestones.”
McCarthy said the monument had previously been vandalized, including being spray-painted in 2008 and 2014. She said the bombing is another example of how conspiracy theories “can and have had an impact on the real world.”
“We’ve seen this with QAnon and many other conspiracy theories, that these ideas can lead someone to try to take action to advance these beliefs,” McCarthy said. “They may try to target the people and institutions that are at the center of these false beliefs.”
Kubass and many others interpret the stones as some kind of guide for the reconstruction of society after an apocalypse.
“It’s up to your own interpretation of how you want them to look,” Kubas said.
The site is near the South Carolina state line, approximately 7 miles (11 kilometers) north of Alberton and about 90 miles (145 kilometers) east of Atlanta. Kubas said granite quarrying is a top local industry, employing about 2,000 in the area.
Representatives from the Albert County Sheriff, the Alberton Police and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are among the agencies trying to figure out what happened. Bomb disposal squad technicians were called to search for evidence, and a state highway running near the site was briefly closed.
None of the suspects have been identified.
Kubass said the association has helped overcome past vandalism and will likely try to stabilize the damage. He said local officials and community leaders may have to decide who, if any, pays for restitution.
“If you didn’t like it, you didn’t have to watch and read it,” Kubas said. “But unfortunately, someone decided they didn’t want anyone to read it.”