NAPLES — Signs on an East Naples road intended to warn drivers of an upcoming crosswalk contained a provocative new message on Sunday — “illegal alien crossing.”
Underneath two of the familiar yellow diamond-shaped crosswalk signs on Radio Road was a smaller rectangular sign with the controversial message.
The additions almost looked authentic except for the yellow color was a shade lighter than the actual sign.
Business owners and residents in the area are expressing outrage at whoever attached the message to the crosswalk signs.
The crosswalk, which is equipped with a recently-installed traffic light, connects a largely Spanish-speaking mobile home community with a shopping center.
Collier County officials quickly removed the offending signs after they were reported on Sunday afternoon, wrote spokesman John Torre in an e-mail to the Daily News.
While the signs were only up for a matter of hours, the message continued to circulate in the neighborhood on Monday.
Wendy Reyes, who owns a restaurant at Radio Road Plaza, said she was outraged when she learned about the message attached to public property.
“That’s discriminatory,” she said.
Reyes, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Bolivia, said there are illegal immigrants who live in the neighborhood, but she said the signs on Sunday were hatefully intended for the entire Spanish-speaking community.
Another resident, Michael Stevens, called those responsible for the signs “ignorant,” and said he didn’t appreciate them mocking his neighbors.
Anonymously, some are congratulating the pranksters and calling the incident funny. Hundreds have posted comments on the Naples Daily News website about the stunt, with many supporting it and calling for a crackdown on illegal immigrants.
But the culprits of the incident themselves may have crossed legal boundaries. The Collier Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation into incident, said spokeswoman Kristi Lester on Monday morning.
While Lester declined to disclose what charges might be filed if suspects are identified, county officials said the sign was against county ordinances because it was illegally placed at a “public right-of-way.”
Connect with Aaron Hale at http://www.naplesnews.com/staff/aaron-hale