Who hiked to the Hollywood Sign to mess with it? See the suspects
The iconic Hollywood Sign has gone through many unauthorized changes many times. At times it’s been used for protest; other times, it’s been to cheer on sports teams, and others, it’s been used as a practical joke. To kick off February, a group hiked up to the Hollywood Sign to change the sign.
The new group changed the sign for a supposed good reason. Here is everything we know about the half a dozen people arrested Monday morning.
The new change
Five men & a woman hiked up the mountain to the Hollywood sign to change the “W” & “D” to “Bs” with a large tarp. To make the first “B,” the group threw a tarp over the “W” and placed a white dash in the “D” to make the final “B.”
According to the group, they change the sign to raise awareness for breast cancer awareness. For those outside of Los Angeles, there is no public trail to the Hollywood Sign. The public trails lead to viewing areas but not anywhere close enough to alter the sign.
The Hollywood Sign Trust privately manages the land the Hollywood Sign sits on. According to a representative from the trust, they appreciate the fast response from LAPD. The trust’s chairman Mark Manatier told the Los Angeles Times, “trespassing to alter the sign was wrong no matter the purported cause.”
“It’s unfortunate that such an important icon for the city of L.A. is not being appreciated,” Manatier added. “This is an icon that’s there for visual reinforcement of the importance of Hollywood, not just for the city of L.A. but to the world. It needs to be upheld; it doesn’t need to be demeaned.”
How did they get caught?
The funny thing is the culprits changed the sign in broad daylight. According to Los Angeles Police Department security personnel, they caught the group on surveillance cameras. LAPD dispatched a helicopter to observe the group descend the mountain and move to a spot near Mulholland Drive. They were met by authorities and promptly arrested.
According to the Los Angeles Times, authorities have not publicly identified the suspects. According to LAPD Capt. Steve Lurie, authorities cited the group with misdemeanor trespassing and released them. They were not cited with vandalism since there were no damages.
The group was arrested on a vacant lot. The owner of the lot told the Los Angeles Times he thought it was a gag when he first saw the change. He also noted the lot gets many trespassers, but they’re usually scared off by guards or rangers on bullhorns.
Other notable changes
We can’t talk about the most recent changes to the Hollywood Sign without bringing up Hollyweed. The sign has been changed twice to Hollyweed to celebrate cannabis legislation in California. The first was in 1976, when the state decriminalized the drug. Then again, in 2017, when recreational weed took effect.
In 2010 a banner appeared over the sign reading “Save the Peak.” In 2009 there were fears real estate developers were going to develop over the land. The yearlong campaign worked to raise money for the Trust to make the land an extension of Griffith Park. Hugh Hefner & Playboy Magazine donated a million dollars.
These were some pretty high profile changes; however, there have been some smaller changes. In 1977 the Hollywood Sign changed to “Holywood” for Pope John Paul II’s visit. In 1983 the sign was covered to read “GO NAVY” for the annual Army-Navy football game’s first appearance on the West Coast. Finally, in 1991, someone changed the sign to read “Oil War” to protest the Gulf War.