Vandals reword Miami road sign with anti-immigrant messages

Miami HeraldMay 26, 2010 

Motorists driving along the Palmetto Expressway on Tuesday were greeted with an anti-immigrant message on a digital message board in a road construction sign.

Someone had hacked into the controls for the sign and reprogrammed it to flash "NO LATINOS" and "NO TACOS." It was disconnected and repaired around 6 a.m.

Crews returned the sign to its intended message — warning motorists that Northwest 25th Street would be closed from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

A driver called the Florida Department of Transportation around 5 a.m. reporting that the fake message was gleaming on the north side of the highway before the 25th Street exit, said FDOT spokesman Brian Rick.

The message board is owned by Illinois-based Highway Technologies Inc., which rented the signs to the construction company, the De Moya Group.

Gil Joseph, the company's southeast region Hub director, said the culprit likely sneaked into the construction area because the sign — called a variable message board — can only be programmed on site.

He called the message "appalling and discriminatory."

The company is now checking other message boards in South Florida to make sure they have not been tampered with, Joseph said.

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