Two billboards in Las Vegas gave drivers cause for concern when they saw what appeared to be men in suits hanging from nooses along Interstate 15.
Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Jeremie Elliot said that the agency started receiving phone calls as early as 6:30 a.m. Wednesday from shocked drivers who thought they saw bodies hanging from the billboards.
One sign read, “Dying For Work.” The second, “Hope You’re Happy Wall St.”
“It looks like it was done very quickly,” Elliot told ABC News. “It was more in graffiti fashion and then the bodies were hung from the scaffolding underneath the sign.”
The bodies were in fact, just mannequins, he added.
Elliot said the two billboards that were vandalized were located at the intersection of I-15 and I-95 – what he referred to as the Spaghetti Bowl — the largest and busiest intersection in Las Vegas. The signs were about five miles apart.
Elliot said that Nevada Highway Patrol worked with the respective owners of the billboards to get the mannequins down quickly to prevent accidents that may have ensued as a result of distracted drivers.
“Once people see that, everybody’s concerned about whether or not it’s real and they lose focus on what they’re doing,” he said. “We did not have any accidents, luckily.”
Elliot said that Lamar Advertising Company, the owner of one of the signs, removed the mannequin and replaced the sign around 8 a.m. Wednesday. The mannequin on the second billboard, owned by Clear Channel Outdoor, was taken down by Clark County Code Enforcement.
Chris Prickett, vice president and general manager of Lamar advertising in Las Vegas, said that the company filed a report of vandalism Wednesday morning with the police department and plans on pressing charges.
Clear Channel Outdoor spokesman Jim Cullinan issued a statement condemning the destructive behavior.
“This is not an innocent protest, but it is illegal and dangerous behavior that Clear Channel Outdoor and the industry will not accept,” he said.
Cullinan said that Clear Channel was in conversations with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department about an investigation.
No one is in custody at this time, said Officer Laura Meltzer, police spokeswoman.
Photos of the billboard were posted on Occupy Las Vegas’ website, with an accompanying message about suicide rates in Clark County.
“Nevada has the highest sustained unemployment of any state in the U.S. with almost no real hope in sight and politicians more concerned with corporate campaign donations than they are helping the middle class & poor,” the website said.
The group did not say whether or not they were responsible for the stunt.
“I have never seen anything like this in my career,” Elliott said. “It was in very bad taste, in my opinion. Whatever message they were trying to get across, they failed miserably.”