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Georgia Guidestones monument has been demolished after being bombed

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

There's a roadside attraction in Georgia that was already enigmatic before an explosion made it more so. The Georgia Guidestones are big, granite slabs inscribed with messages in multiple languages. The monument was commissioned by someone called R.C. Christian around 1980. Many believe that's a pseudonym. Just before dawn on Wednesday, an explosion turned one of the granite panels into rubble. It's not clear who did it or why, though a gubernatorial candidate recently called for that monument to be torn down. WABE's Rahul Bali covers Georgia politics and joins us now. Hey there.

RAHUL BALI, BYLINE: Hey.

SUMMERS: So there is a political story here. But first, what exactly is or maybe it's what were the Georgia Guidestones?

BALI: So some folks had nicknamed it the American Stonehenge because the way it sort of looked like the monument in England - four 19-foot-tall granite panels carved out of local stone in northeast Georgia. They featured inscriptions in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew and Arabic. And, you know, it had things about living in the age of reason, but there were also some controversial things, like having a world court and limiting the global population to 500 million. Now, add that folks didn't know who R.C. Christian was or who funded the monument and why, it became a local mystery. Conspiracy theories eventually abound on the internet, and hundreds, if not thousands, of people came to Elbert County every year to see the stones.

SUMMERS: Wow. So this monument has been around for some 40 years now. What made it become a target right now?

BALI: So here's what happened - the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the local sheriff's office believe that one or more people set off what they're calling an explosive device early Wednesday morning. The bureau released some surveillance video of a silver car speeding away from the area. The video footage that was released did not show any people. So it's not clear who did this. One of the panels was destroyed in the blast, but the whole thing was eventually torn down for safety reasons. So even though the stones have been around for decades, you asked why it's been in the news now, it's - it came back in the headlines in May during the Republican primary for Georgia governor. One of the candidates, Kandiss Taylor, tweeted out a campaign video about the monument.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

KANDISS TAYLOR: We've watched as people have destroyed our history and monuments. And in their place, they have erected statues to their own gods.

BALI: Now, the tweet that came with that video also said, quote, "elect me governor of Georgia, and I will bring the satanic regime to its knees and demolish the Georgia Guidestones," unquote. Worth noting that Taylor got more than 41,000 votes but finished third in the race, which is only 3% of the vote, and she's also not conceded the race.

SUMMERS: OK. So what has been the response there to this destruction?

BALI: So a couple hours after the explosion, we heard from Kandiss Taylor via tweet. She said, quote, "God is God by himself. He can do anything he wants to do. That includes striking down satanic guidestones." Then last night, she posted a video making clear don't associate me with anything that's not legal.

I did talk to Tom McCall, who's a representative who represented Elbert County in the legislature for 25 years. He doesn't know if tourists and the money is going to come back. He just kind of wonders if the mystery is going to go away, even if it's rebuilt.

SUMMERS: That is WABE's politics reporter Rahul Bali. Thank you so much.

BALI: Great to be on. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rahul Bali