Electronic road signs are used to display important information for open road commuters, whether it’s just a quick reminder to “buckle up” or warn you of any recent traffic delays.
What they’re not in place for is recreational use in the form of joking around, especially if said message happens to be a racial slur like the one that appeared on U.S. Route 40 in Maryland recently in a case that’s now being investigated as a hate crime.
According to WDVM, Maryland State Police responded to a complaint centered around a sign located at Smithfield Lane in Hagerstown. The driver who made the call around 12:30 AM earlier today reported that the message sign had been changed to display a racial slur, which was flashing on the monitor when police arrived. After quickly disabling it and removing the sign altogether, authorities immediate began investigating the situation by surveying local businesses and individuals in the area at the time.
More on the still-ongoing investigation below, via WDVM:
“In a news release, Maryland State Police said, ‘Troopers placed the message board at that location approximately one week ago with an important safety message for motorists about distracted driving. The original electronic message was programmed to read, ‘do not text and drive.’ No arrests have been made, and there are no suspects or suspect vehicle descriptions at this time.’
Anyone with information about the person or persons responsible or who may have seen a vehicle at this intersection during the overnight hours is urged to contact Maryland State Police at 301-766-3800.”
Police haven’t revealed what the racist message said, but we’re willing to bet that it included one word specifically. Sometimes, we just have to ask: will we ever get a break — just one day! — when it comes to senseless racism?
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