A man has been arrested by the LAPD on suspicion of trespassing for changing the famous Hollywood sign to “HOLLYWeeD” as a part of a New Year’s Day prank. 30-year old Zachary Cole Fernandez, an artist from Pomona, California, surrendered to the Los Angeles Police Department on 12:10 p.m. on Monday, according to the Los Angeles Times. Zachary was accompanied by his attorney.
Captain Cory Palka of the Los Angeles Police Department says that Zachary was booked on misdemeanor offense and subsequently released after he posted a $1,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear on Los Angeles Superior Court in download Los Angeles on February 15. The police have said that although Fernandez’s prank resulted in the letters being changed for a brief instance, the sign was not damaged in any way.
Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu released a statement about the incident.
“The Hollywood Sign has seen many alteration attempts over the years for people seeking notoriety or commercial gain. Pranks of this nature deplete the resources of our valuable public safety personnel, in both responding to the prank and in responding to the increased crowds and copycat attempts that these incidents generate.”
Police had said earlier that the surveillance footage from the night of the incident showed a man dressed in black and carrying tactical gear using a the sign’s ladders to climb up and hang tarps over the two O’s of the Hollywood sign to change the o’s to e’s. One of the tarps had a Peace sign while the other had a Heart in it. The incident took place at 3 a.m. local time, January 1.
Zach Fernandez, also known as “Jesushands” among his followers in Instagram, had been underground ever since the Police began suspecting him and started question him and his co-workers & peers. He was scheduled to meet with L.A.P.D. Detectives earlier last week, but never showed up. Zach had been telling his friends that he was afraid that he’d be charged with a crime for the seemingly harmless prank. He surrendered to Police on Monday, so his punishment can’t be expected to be too severe.
The state of California has just passed a new law legalizing recreational marijuana. Many saw Zachary’s prank as a homage to this new law. Zach Fernandez and his former wife/creative partner Sarah Fern had spoken with Vice earlier last week, revealing that they were indeed behind the prank. They said that they had everything mapped out and double checked. Sarah told Vice that since they were on a budget, they had to be very resourceful. Sarah explained further about the duo’s strategy.
“Zach found a measurement for the height of the letters. So, from there, we kinda just went over every image we could possibly find online and mapped it out and did the math on it. We tried to give ourselves some wiggle room just in case.”
This isn’t the first time the Hollywood sign was altered to “Hollyweed”. The first change took place in 1976, when California had just relaxed its marijuana laws. Zach says that he saw the photo of the the original prank in Instagram and wondered if it was indeed real or had just been altered digitally.
“But after I looked it up, I saw there was this guy, Danny Finegood, who was an art student at Cal State Northridge and originally changed the sign as part of a school art project.”
Zach says that Danny Finegood actually got an A for his project, and that inspired him to undertake the action himself. Mr. Finegood died 10 years ago, and Zach says he wrote “a tribute to Mr. Finegood” at the bottom of the left “O”.
[Featured Image by Damian Dovarganes/AP Images]