Newspapers across the country ran a story picked up by the Associated Press about an act of vandalism that left dummies hanging by the neck off billboards in central Las Vegas.
Reports of the stunt were seen yesterday on the Miami Herald as well as The Washington Post, among others. The elaborate feat is currently being investigated by local authorities, and so far has been labeled as an “act of vandalism.”
Drivers on I-15 near Bonanza Road were shocked to see the mannequin dressed in a suit dangling on a hangman’s noose with the words “Dying for Work,” and many called 911 to report the incident. Not far from there, on another billboard near Desert Inn Road and Highland Avenue, a dummy swaying on a rope by the neck and the words “Hope You’re Happy Wall St” could be clearly seen from the freeway.
Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Jeremie Elliot said the 911 calls started coming in at dawn, when commuters thought the dummies were real persons. “It’s a publicity stunt done in bad taste,” the trooper said. Officials rushed to take the mannequins down to avoid distracting motorists.
The two billboards used are owned by local companies Lamar Advertising and Clear Channel Outdoor, and both said use of their billboards was not warranted. Jim Cullinan, spokesperson for Clear Channel, called the publicity stunt “illegal and dangerous,” and added that his company and the industry as a whole will not tolerate unauthorized use of advertising structures.
It is clear this was the organized work of more than one person, but it is not yet known who will claim responsibility for the daring displays. Civil organizations are suspected, and at least one of them, Occupy Las Vegas, posted photos of the dummies on their website and blamed the state’s government budget for slashing social programs that prevent suicides.
Meanwhile with local and national newspapers and TV stations covering the fake suicides, the inventive perpetrators got what they were after; free publicity.
Sometimes what happens in Vegas might just make national news.