Before Thursday morning, a California billboard was one advertising a junk removal service. It depicted a child with his hands holding his face and his mouth open, like a “Home Alone”-style scream.

But in the early morning hours, commuters headed to San Francisco noticed something a little different. The Emeryville sign no longer read, “We make junk disappear”; now, it read, “We make kids disappear” and was signed, “I.C.E.”

Photos began appearing on social media and shortly thereafter, an activist group called INDECLINE took credit for the modifications via their Instagram. INDECLINE has been in operation since 2001, and is perhaps best known for the nude, NSFW statues of Donald Trump they placed around the country in 2016.

“This isn’t an immigration issue,” the group wrote of the billboard in the Instagram caption. “This is a humanitarian crisis.”

The accompanying video, also on their website, depicts several people in black hoodies painting over the Clear Channel Outdoor-run billboard “a couple hours before daybreak” Thursday morning.

“The issue right now is we have a president who makes it a practice to forcibly separate young children from their parents,” an unidentified spokesperson for the group told SFGATE. “It started to weigh on us more and more and it became a unique situation. We wanted to create a piece for (it).”

The spokesperson says he is not based in the Bay Area, but was driving on Interstate 880 with others in INDECLINE when they saw the 1-800-GOT-JUNK sign. After spotting it, the idea to modify it to address the administration’s immigration controversial policy of separating families at the border was “almost instantaneous.”

“For the common person, it’s a little eye opening to be driving to work and see a corporate billboard change,” the spokesperson added. “They can look at this and see people are risking their personal safety to deliver this message … (The immigration issue) isn’t a thing that’s done and over with. We still have a clear-cut issue with our immigration policies. (This billboard project) is about awareness and inspiration.”

Jason King, a spokesperson for Clear Channel Outdoor, tells SFGATE that the company is “aware of the vandalism and are working to repair, replace or remove the defaced ad by close of business today.”

California’s penalties for vandalism vary based on the particular offense. Damages amounting to more than $400 could mean a jail sentence for up to one year or a fine of up to $10,000.



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