A Georgia monument that attracted curious visitors and was derided as satanic by a governor candidate was destroyed Wednesday after authorities said someone detonated an explosive device at the site.
The Georgia Guidestones, a granite monument decorated with a message about preserving humanity, was demolished for safety reasons after the 4am explosion in Elbert County, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.
The agency released surveillance video showing the explosion and a silver sedan leaving the scene shortly after the blast.
No motive has been identified, and the agency has only said that “unknown persons” detonated the device.
The monument — dubbed “America’s Stonehenge” — stood at 19 feet and contained a 10-part message in 12 languages, according to tourism site Explore Georgia.
Christopher Kubas, executive vice president of the Elberton Granite Association, which helped maintain the site, said it attracted more than 20,000 annual visitors, NBC affiliate WYFF of Greenville, South Carolina, reported.
Among other things, the message called for keeping the world’s population under 500 million “in perpetual balance with nature,” a “living new language” and to “manage reproduction wisely,” according to the Elbert County Chamber of Commerce.
An account of the site’s origins on the chamber’s website says it was funded by an anonymous “small group of loyal Americans who believe in God” and lived outside of Georgia.
The group wanted to leave a message for future generations, the account said.
On Wednesday, Kubas said some found the message offensive and that the monument had been previously painted, WYFF reported.
A former governor candidate, Republican Kandiss Taylor, had promised to turn the monument “to dust” if elected. Taylor came in third in the May 24 primary after taking 3.4 percent of the vote.
On Wednesday, she said in a video that she believed God had pulled down the monument, which she referred to in a… tweet as “Satanic Guide Stones.”
“Until I see a video that shows me something other than lightning or the hand of God moving in a situation, I will believe it was God,” she said. “If it was vandalism, there would be cameras everywhere.”
“Those people should be brought to justice,” she said, adding that she was not in favor of demolishing the structure through means “outside our legal system.”
The memorial was located in Elbert County, northeast Georgia across the Savannah River from South Carolina.