Electronic road sign in Hagerstown hacked to display racial slur

A hate crime investigation is underway by Maryland State Police after an electronic road sign on Route 40 in Hagerstown was broken into early Wednesday morning and altered to display a racial slur.

Authorities in Washington County said a driver contacted police around 12:30 a.m., reporting the sign had been changed to display a racial slur.

When troopers from the Hagerstown Barrack arrived at the location on Route 40 at Smithfield Lane, they found the electronic sign was illuminating a racist message and the lock on the display box had been broken into and pried open.

The sign had been installed only a week ago by state troopers to display safety messages for motorists. The sign’s original message was: “Do not text and drive.”

Authorities said they have begun an investigation and contacted businesses and residents in the area. No arrests have been made and there are no suspects or suspect vehicle descriptions, at this time.

Anyone with information about the person or persons responsible, or who may have seen a vehicle at this intersection during the overnight hours, is urged to contact Maryland State Police at the Hagerstown Barrack at 301-766-3800.

Below is a map of the area.

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Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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