Was it a life-safety issue or suppression of free speech? What if it said ‘Biden’ or ‘BLM?’
We have all seen the giant Hollywood sign. Some of us in person, but almost all of us in movies and television shows.
The letters are 45 feet tall and is 350 feet long. It is clearly visible from the 101. It is a source of pride in the area and a tourist attraction.
Seventeen miles to the west of the Hollywood sign, someone erected a similarly-styled sign just off 405 at the Sepulveda Pass. Unlike the better known sign, this one only had 8 letters, which appeared to be roughly 20 feet tall. And they simply said:
Someone put up this Trump sign overnight along the 405 freeway, near the Getty. This is right in the middle of what’s largely considered one of the most liberal cities in America. pic.twitter.com/KlSdao4mwk
— Christina Pascucci (@ChristinaKTLA) October 6, 2020
The sign showed up early in the morning on Tuesday.
California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) workers were on the scene within two hours, and took the letters down.
‘TRUMP’ SIGN TAKEN DOWN: Workers were on a hillside along the 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass by 9 a.m. to take down the letters, which were put up sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning. https://t.co/efgS57LgnH pic.twitter.com/4CUbo51lUC
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) October 6, 2020
Ah, it must have been an unauthorized installation on public property, right?
Nope. According to the LA Times, it was on private land.
That is supposedly why Caltrans workers laid it down rather than completely removing it.
The original call to authorities was allegedly placed because someone thought the sign could “spark a blaze”.
The California Highway Patrol recorded the sign as a traffic hazard, saying that numerous motorists had decelerated during morning rush hour, presumably to take pictures and video of the sign.
“This was a life and safety issue because there were concerns about distracted driving,” Lauren Wonder, chief public information officer for Caltrans, said.
But we have to ask, was it a life and safety issue or suppression of free speech?
This LA Times report on the massive Trump sign on a hill near the 405 says that state authorities went on private property to take it down because they claimed the political speech was a “visual distraction” to drivers. What? https://t.co/9doDsRgUdy via @YouTube
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) October 7, 2020
Make no mistake. The sign was protected free political speech. Unless there are ordinances preventing the erecting of signs or structures within a certain distance of the freeway, lines were certainly crossed in the decision to enter private property and take down someone’s sign.
It is unclear if the property owner knew about the sign or if they were notified of and agreed to the dismantling by state employees.
Keep in mind, this sign was not erected in Texas or another “red” state. This was in Los Angeles, California, the bluest of blue.
So, another question that would need to be asked it this:
Would Caltrans have taken it down if it said Biden, BLM or Breonna Taylor?
I guess we will never know.
Fortunately, other displays that support the President, while they may draw loads of criticism, are not being taken down.
Read more on LawEnforcementToday