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Archive for Thursday, February 1, 2007

Suspicious devices in Boston part of cartoon ad campaign

One arrested in hoax that caused security fears

February 1, 2007

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— Several illuminated electronic devices planted at bridges and other spots in Boston threw a scare into the city Wednesday in what turned out to be a publicity campaign for a late-night cable cartoon. Most if not all of the devices depict a character giving the finger.

Peter Berdovsky, 29, of Arlington, was arrested on one felony charge of placing a hoax device and one charge of disorderly conduct, state Attorney General Martha Coakley said later Wednesday. He had been hired to place the devices, she said.

Highways, bridges and a section of the Charles River were shut down and bomb squads were sent in before authorities declared the devices were harmless.

Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner Inc. and parent of Cartoon Network, later said the devices were part of a promotion for the TV show "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," a surreal series about a talking milkshake, a box of fries and a meatball.

Authorities are investigating whether Turner and any other companies should be criminally charged, Coakley said. It wasn't immediately clear Wednesday who might have hired Berdovsky.

"We're not going to let this go without looking at the further roots of how this happened to cause the panic in this city," Coakley said at a news conference.

Those conducting the campaign should have known the devices could cause panic because they were placed in sensitive areas, she said.

Turner did not notify officials of the publicity campaign until about 5 p.m., nearly four hours after the first calls came in about the devices, she and others said.

At least 14 of the devices were found, Coakley said.

"The packages in question are magnetic lights that pose no danger," Turner said in a statement.

Members of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority Police, the Massachusetts State Police and the Boston Bomb Squad respond to a suspicious package found near the Sullivan Square subway station in Boston. Several additional suspicious devices were found Wednesday in different areas of the city. The devices proved to be hoaxes, part of a marketing campaign for the cartoon "Aqua Teen Hunger Force."

Members of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority Police, the Massachusetts State Police and the Boston Bomb Squad respond to a suspicious package found near the Sullivan Square subway station in Boston. Several additional suspicious devices were found Wednesday in different areas of the city. The devices proved to be hoaxes, part of a marketing campaign for the cartoon "Aqua Teen Hunger Force."

It said the devices have been in place for two to three weeks in 10 cities: Boston; New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Atlanta; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Austin, Texas; San Francisco; and Philadelphia.

"We regret that they were mistakenly thought to pose any danger," the company said. As soon as the company realized the problem, it said, law enforcement officials were told of their locations in all 10 cities.

The marketing firm that put them up, Interference Inc., has been ordered to remove them immediately, said Phil Kent, Turner chairman.

"We apologize to the citizens of Boston that part of a marketing campaign was mistaken for a public danger," Kent said. "We appreciate the gravity of this situation and, like any responsible company would, are putting all necessary resources toward understanding the facts surrounding it as quickly as possible."

There were no reports from police Wednesday of residents in the other nine cities spotting similar devices.

Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke praised Boston authorities for sharing their knowledge quickly with Washington officials and the public.

"Hoaxes are a tremendous burden on local law enforcement and counter-terrorism resources and there's absolutely no place for them in a post-9/11 world," Knocke said.

Authorities said some of the objects looked like circuit boards or had wires hanging from them.

Comments

Janet Lowther 7 years, 10 months ago

The descriptions of the devices are incompatible with what I would expect a bomb to look like: Just as a general rule, bombs are not illuminated, they are designed to be inconspicuous so they are not found before they go off.

It sounds like an overreaction by paranoid cops to me.

aero_steve 7 years, 10 months ago

I would like to see Turner Network refuse to pay any reimbursement for the overreaction. And it was an overreaction. As jrlii pointed out these devices drew attention to themselves which is contrary what an IED would do, but is precisely what a marketing display does.

Also I would like to see what triggered the reaction at the time it did. The signs had been in place for a couple weeks without any response. Was the Boston police force so oblivious they hadn't noticed them? What finally made it such a big deal yesterday? Did someone get offended by err's one finger salute and turn it into a potential terrorist plot?

To quote Ignignokt, "Prepare for a pride-obliterating bitch slap!"

werekoala 7 years, 10 months ago

Heh, not hardly, Dambudzo.

Y'know what all those people were over-reacting to?

A Lite-Brite(TM)

A Lite-Brite(TM)

A Lite-Brite(TM)

/The terrorists HAVE won //Osama's standing in a cave somewhere with a big "Mission Accomplished" banner behind him

werekoala 7 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, it's a Lite-Brite with a cartoon finger on it, giving you a finger, placed as part of a marketing campaign for Aqua Teen Hunger Force, which follows the crime-solving mis-haps of a crime-stopping team of super-heros made from a fast-food meal.

Plus, these have been up in like 10 other cities without causing a bomb scare.

People are morons. Apparently, Bostonians are especially morons.

Chicago_JHawk 7 years, 10 months ago

This is one of the MOST ridiculous things I've ever read.

werekoala 7 years, 10 months ago

I hope you can see this, because I'm doing it as hard as I can.

And their press conference was hillarious - they refused to take questions on anything other than hairstyles of the 1970s. These guys are my heros

The media pinheads were about to lose it!

There's nothing funnier than someone occasionally pointing out that not only is the Emperor naked, but he's got a tiny dong!

You should hear the ADA - they were dangerous because they had WIRES AND BATTERIES showing.

Hmm, much like every other piece of consumer electronics? So did I last week, when I jumpstarted my car. A fiendish terrorist threat, I am. Durka durka.

You know what - don't worry when you see wires and batteries, worry when you see F@#KING EXPLOSIVES!

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