The Huffington Post | By Gene Demby
A road sign on a Michigan freeway was hacked early Monday morning and its message changed to “Trayvon A Nigger.”
According to Rob Morosi, a spokesman for the state’s department of transportation, someone had broken the lock on the sign’s controls and changed the message warning of construction to the message with the slur. “We were first alerted to it a little after midnight,” he told the Huffington Post. “By 12:50 a.m. it was returned to the [appropriate message].”
“Not too many people saw it but it was long enough to make people very upset,” Morosi said, adding that the state police now had the sign and were investigating the incident. “We’re just hoping they’re able to gather evidence, determine who it is and take appropriate action.”
Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old from Miami Gardens, Fla., was shot and killed by a self-appointed neighborhood watch member in the gated community where his father lived. His shooter, who said the unarmed teenager looked suspicious before following him. Protesters around the country have called for the shooter, George Zimmerman, to be arrested and prosecuted for the killing, which Zimmerman said happened in self-defense.
Morosi said that hacking into the portable road signs is not uncommon, but the pranksters are usually much more benign in their messaging. “Prior to this they’ve all been quirky, you know aliens ahead and zombies,” he said. “It’s more of a nuisance and we have to get someone out there to fix it.”
“When you take it to this level now you’ve raised the bar in terms of how appalled we all were.”
“In all seriousness, not only was the sign completely inappropriate but it was actually a traffic hazard,” he said. “People were slowing down and stopping altogether. On a 70 mph freeway at 1 o’clock in the morning, that’s not something you want.”