Digital sign in Sumter vandalized, altered to display racial epithet


The Sumter Police Department said someone tampered with and left a racial epithet on a South Carolina Department of Transportation message board.
Tonyia McGirt, public information officer for the police department, said she could not share what the message was changed to, nor which race it was directed to. A Facebook post showed it was directed toward Black people. A photo of the sign showed it saying, “Honk if you hate …” with the “N” word.
“We will investigate this to the fullest,” Chief Russell Roark said, describing the incident as extremely disturbing, “a scar on the city and its residents that is in no way indicative of the community where we work and live.”
The digital message board was located on a stretch of South Pike West, a highly trafficked area of the city near Shoney’s and the U.S. 76/378 bypass. It was placed by SCDOT to alert drivers to an ongoing road construction project nearby.
McGirt said officers were made aware of the sign Saturday afternoon after the sign was altered by an unknown person or persons to display the offensive statement. McGirt said officers were notified of the racial epithet at about 4:30 p.m. It has since been removed.
Anyone with information or who may have seen someone near the board is asked to call the Sumter Police Department at (803) 436-2700.
Tips can also be given anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at1-888-CRIME-SC.
An up to $5,000 cash reward will be available for information leading to an arrest(s).
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