A controversial rural Georgia monument dubbed by some as “America’s Stonehenge” was bombed and ultimately demolished after an explosion damaged one of the four granite panels early Wednesday morning.
According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, preliminary information indicates that unknown individuals detonated an explosive device at the Georgia Guidestones at around 4 a.m. on July 6. Elbert County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene and reported that the explosion destroyed a large portion of the structure.
The GBI released surveillance footage on Wednesday evening that depicts the initial explosion that lead to the destruction of the guidestones. A car can be seen leaving the scene shortly after the explosion in the footage.
No one was injured in the explosion, the GBI said, but the Georgia Guidestones were completely demolished later in the day “for safety reasons.”
The roadside attraction was constructed in 1980 by an unknown individual or group who used the name R.C. Christian. The granite panels stood 19-foot-high and had a 10-part message in eight different languages with guidance for living in an “age of reason.”
“That’s given the guidestones a sort of shroud of mystery around them, because the identity and intent of the individuals who commissioned them is unknown,” said Katie McCarthy, who researches conspiracy theories for the Anti-Defamation League. “And so that has helped over the years to fuel a lot of speculation and conspiracy theories about the guidestones’ true intent.”
The Georgia Guidestones were no stranger to conspiracy theories and criticism. One part of the stones’ messages calls for keeping the world population at 500 million or below, while another part calls to “guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.”
After prior vandalism, video cameras connected to the county’s emergency dispatch center were stationed at the site, said Elbert Granite Association Executive Vice President Chris Kubas.
The monument’s notoriety took off with the rise of the internet, Kubas said, until it became a roadside tourist attraction, with thousands visiting each year.
The site received renewed attention during Georgia’s May 24 gubernatorial primary when third-place Republican candidate Kandiss Taylor claimed the guidestones are satanic and made demolishing them part of her platform. Comedian John Oliver featured the guidestones and Taylor in a segment in late May. McCarthy said right-wing personalities including Alex Jones had talked about them in previous years, but that “they sort of came back onto the public’s radar” because of Taylor.
“God is God all by Himself. He can do ANYTHING He wants to do,” Taylor wrote on social media Wednesday. “That includes striking down Satanic Guidestones.”
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 out to look for evidence, and a state highway that runs near the site was closed for a time.
No suspects were identified.
Kubas said local officials and community leaders will have to decide who, if anyone, pays for restoration.
“If you didn’t like it, you didn’t have to come see it and read it,” Kubas said. “But unfortunately, somebody decided they didn’t want anyone to read it.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.