Ad campaign triggers bomb scare in Boston
POSTED: 6:31 p.m. EST, January 31, 2007
BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Electronic light boards featuring an adult-cartoon character triggered bomb scares around Boston on Wednesday, spurring authorities to close two bridges and a stretch of the Charles River before determining the devices were harmless.
Turner Broadcasting Co., the parent company of CNN, said the devices contained harmless magnetic lights aimed at promoting the Adult Swim network's late-night cartoon "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." Law enforcement sources said the devices displayed one of the Mooninites, outer-space delinquents who appear frequently on the show, greeting visitors with a raised middle finger.
"While the concern is lessened as a result of the investigation, I'd like to remind citizens to treat any su****ious devices with care and to call 911 if any such device is found," Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said.
The devices had been placed as part of an "outdoor marketing campaign" in 10 cities, a Turner Broadcasting statement said.
"Parent company Turner Broadcasting is in contact with local and federal law enforcement on the exact locations of the billboards," the statement said. "We regret that they were mistakenly thought to pose any danger."
Turner said the devices had been in place for two to three weeks in Boston; New York; Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois; Atlanta, Georgia; Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas; San Francisco, California; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
A Turner Broadcasting source said the devices were a component of a third-party advertising campaign conducted by the New York advertising firm Interference Inc. That company had no comment on the incident.
The discovery of nine of the devices around metro Boston led state, local and federal authorities to close the Boston University and Longfellow Bridges, and block boat traffic from the Charles River to Boston Harbor.
In addition, the Pentagon said U.S. Northern Command was monitoring the situation from its headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but said none of its units were sent to assist.
Davis said police "are going to fully investigate this and get to the bottom of it."
The first su****ious device turned up Wednesday morning at the Sullivan Square commuter rail station, near the suburb of Somerville. Wednesday afternoon four other devices were reported -- near the Longfellow and Boston University bridges over the Charles, at New England Medical Center and near the intersection of Stuart and Columbus avenues in the city.
Three others turned up in other locations around Boston as well, Davis said.