By Bert Eljera
LAS VEGAS — Police are still looking for the culprit or culprits in at least two incidents of mannequins hanging from highway billboards, looking like real people, prompting calls from worried motorists.
Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Jeremie Elliott told the Associated Press, 911 calls started coming in early Wednesday, with drivers worried the stiff, black-suited dummies swaying at the end of a rope along Interstate 15 were real people.
Elliot said the two billboards were located at the intersection of I-15 and I-95 – what he referred to as the Spaghetti Bowl — the largest and busiest intersection in Las Vegas. The signs were about five miles apart.
In one case, a mannequin was dangling on a hangman’s noose below a black sign with the words: “Dying for Work.”
“It’s a publicity stunt, obviously done in bad taste,” Elliott told the AP, adding that officials were getting it down quickly to avoid distracting drivers during the morning commute.
While nobody has publicly claimed responsibility for the signs, the Occupy Las Vegas group, which is affiliated with the larger Occupy Wall Street movement, posted photos of the displays on its website.
It says the Nevada governor’s budget has slashed social programs and aid to suicidal adults.
Sebring Frehner, an Occupy supporter who posted the photos, told the AP he didn’t know who put the dummies up, but applauded the message behind it.
“People saying it’s in bad taste are living sheltered lives and don’t pay attention to what affects the working class,” he said.
The display, called street art and credited to Anonymous on the Occupy Las Vegas website, came with this statement:
“Clark County has the second highest rate of adult suicide in the country right now. It has the fifth highest rate of child suicide. And, thanks to the governor’s draconian education budget, the Social Work programs that used to supply volunteers and interns to help such people have been de-funded.
“The Clark County suicide hotline number is “not in service at this time.” Nevada has the highest sustained unemployment of any state in the U.S. with almost no real hope in sight and politicians more concerned with corporate campaign donations than they are helping the middle class & poor.”