SUMTER, S.C. (WCBD) – A teenager accused of altering a digital message board to display a racist phrase was arrested over the weekend.
Authorities said the sign was originally being used to alert drivers about an ongoing road improvement project in a highly trafficked area of Sumter, South Carolina when it was used to display the hateful message.
The offensive message was reported to the Sumter Police Department on Saturday afternoon. They said the 17-year-old is not associated with the company or any other parties tied to the improvement project.
Chief Russell Roark promised to fully investigate the incident and called it a “scar on the city and its residents that is in no way indicative of the community where we work and live.”
The agency shared photos of the suspect on Facebook and said they were reviewing a surveillance video to identify the individual.
After identifying the teen as a suspect in the case, police said they arrested the 17-year-old on Sunday – they are now facing a charge of aggravated breach of peace. They were being held in a state Department of Juvenile Justice facility.
“The words and thoughts in this altered message are disturbing, deeply hurtful and are not indicative of our city,” Chief Russell Roark said. “We had a responsibility to our citizens to act quickly in this matter. The damage can’t be undone, but it was important for us to hold the person responsible for this accountable and prevent further incidents like this from happening.”