Mysterious Georgia monument removed after explosion

State and local police are investigating an early morning explosion Wednesday that partially destroyed a controversial monument in Elbert County in east Georgia.

The explosion was reported around 4 a.m. and blew apart a portion of the Georgia Guidestones, a Stonehenge-like granite monument erected in 1980 that has been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories, including those associated with the widespread and cult-like QAnon conspiracy community. The remainder of the monument was removed later in the day due to excessive damage and for the protection of investigators who were working the scene, officials said.

ExploreWhat are the Georgia Guidestones and what messages were written on them?

The monument, a tourist attraction for the rural community, sat in a field seven miles north of Elberton and was made up of four 19-foot-tall granite slabs inscribed with instructions for “the conservation of mankind” written in eight languages. The inscriptions urge humanity to live harmoniously, rule fairly and protect the environment. But further instructions to limit the world population to 500 million and establish a world court have attracted criticism from fringe groups who fear the rise of a one world government or other baseless conspiracies.

The identities of those who paid to have the monument erected are a closely held secret, which has only fueled speculation as to their meaning.

ExploreGBI releases new video of Georgia Guidestones bombing, showing a person nearby at time of explosion

Kandiss Taylor, a minor Republican candidate for governor who has echoed many conspiracy theories, published a campaign video before the GOP primary promising to destroy the monument, which she linked to “the Satanic Regime,” an apparent reference to the QAnon conspiracy that the world is run by a secret society of pedophile elites. Taylor received 3.4% of the primary vote.

Police investigating the explosion have released no details about possible suspects or motive. Katie McCarthy, a researcher with the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said it is reasonable to suspect the explosion is tied to the monument’s reputation among extremist groups, fueled by its mysterious origins.

McCarthy said conspiracy theories about the monument have been around for years, long before the rise of QAnon. But she said it will be very concerning if the explosion is tied to extremists.

“It’s definitely troubling, and it shows that these conspiracy theories that spread and percolate online have real world consequences,” she said.

The GBI’s bomb disposal team spent the day investigating the site. Surveillance video released by the GBI showed the blast, which obliterated one of the monument’s four pillars. A second video shows a gray sedan with a moonroof leaving the scene.

Lee Vaugh, chairman of the Elbert County Board of Commissioners, said the monument had become increasingly controversial after Taylor made it part of her campaign. He said a pastor from a neighboring county talked for 20 minutes during last month’s county commission meeting about the “evil” monument and urged its removal.

“Just thank goodness nobody was hurt,” Vaughn said.

Elberton Mayor Daniel Graves said the damage to the Guidestones monument is a tragedy for a city known as “the Granite Capital of the World.”

“For over 122 years, the men and women of Elberton have produced the world’s finest granite monuments and memorials. Even today, our community produces two-thirds of the monuments sold in the United States, and we do so without reservation to all those who call upon us regardless of race, creed, religion, or any other classification,” he said in a written statement.

Graves said the messages on the stones may confuse some “kooky YouTuber,” but for locals, the monument is a testament to their tradition of stoneworking.

“It is the stones themselves and the men and women who crafted them from the raw earth that tell the story,” he said. “There is only one community in the world that could build such a monument.”

ExplorePersonal Journeys: Set in stone

However, Taylor took to Twitter Wednesday to praise the attack on the monument.

“God is God all by Himself. He can do ANYTHING He wants to do. That includes striking down Satanic Guidestones,” she wrote.

McCarthy said the fact that a candidate for governor — even a failed one — gives voice to such ideas raises the question of whether they are fringe anymore.

Political scientists sometimes refer to this as the “Overton Window” to describe the range of policies and beliefs acceptable to voters at any given time.

“The Overton Window is definitely shifting, and we are seeing these fringe and extreme beliefs move into the mainstream,” McCarthy said.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is encouraged to call the GBI Athens office at (706) 552-2309 or the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office at (706) 283-2421. Anonymous tips can be submitted to 1-800-597-TIPS (8477), online at https://gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online.

ExploreGeorgia Guidestones: Surveillance video shows car near site of the explosion

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT


THE MONUMENT

The Georgia Guidestones monument was built in 1980 from local granite, commissioned by an unknown person or group under the name R.C. Christian.

The four 19-foot-high panels bear a 10-part message in eight different languages with guidance for living in an “age of reason.”

It also serves as a sundial and astronomical calendar.

Credit: WYFF4

Credit: WYFF4