Misconstrued terrorist threat signs
igniting uproar in Boston
make no splash in San Francisco
By Elizabeth Daley, Bay City News Service
Feburary 2, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - After searching for 20 small glowing
signs placed in San Francisco as a cartoon publicity campaign
that in Boston became misconstrued as a terrorist threat, a local
resident came forward with what police could not: evidence.
The ad campaign with billboards and signs depicting an animated
character making an obscene gesture were largely disregarded in
San Francisco, but in Boston they were reportedly blamed for significant
disruptions leading to $750,000 in public costs. Boston police
arrested two people for distributing the signs, according to reports.
San Francisco police Sgt. Neville Gittens said not a trace remained
of the signs planted by the Cartoon Network as publicity for their
animated television show with adult themes, "Aqua Teen Hunger
Gittens said the signs were scheduled for removal on Wednesday
night by Interference Inc., the New York based agency that created
After visiting locations where the signs were allegedly placed
and finding none, Gittens said no more resources will be spent
on the matter.
"They said they were going to remove them and they did.
End of story," said Gittens, who was asked how police involvement
in the matter began.
Cartoon Network owner Turner Broadcasting System Inc. CEO Phil
Kent released a statement of apology for the publicity stunt,
saying, "As soon as we realized that an element of the campaign
was being mistaken for something potentially dangerous, appropriate
law enforcement officials were notified through Federal law enforcement
channels, we identified the specific locations of the advertisements
in all 10 cities in which they are posted. We also directed the
third party firm who posted the advertisements to take them down
"We appreciate the gravity of this situation and, like any
responsible company would, are putting all necessary resources
toward understanding the facts surrounding it as quickly as possible,"
Jamie Alexander, owner of Park Life, a San Francisco-based store
and art gallery said he was graced with the glowing mystery sign
about one week ago.
Alexander said he noticed the sign affixed to an old metal "Busvan
for Bargains" sign above the store at 220 Clement St. Alexander
did not know what the sign was but "terrorism was the last
thing on my mind," he said.
"It's a light-up robot."
The fact that it was perceived as terrorism "makes me think
people are taking things a little too seriously," said Alexander.
"Unfortunately a person in Boston who wasn't too hip saw
Alexander said he initially thought the sign was " some
sort of street art," but took the sign down after the batteries
"I kind of feel sorry for the guy that did it all because
he's got to take the fall, and it was kind of clever actually,"
said Alexander who, though familiar with the cartoon, did not
connect it to the publicity stunt.
As for the sign, "I am holding on to it for now," said
Alexander who has not decided whether or not to sell it on eBay
or display it in his Richmond district store. Alexander says if
authorities come to take it he is not going to give it to them
"I am going to tell them I lost it," he said.
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