LOS ANGELES, CA — A 30-year-old artist from Pomona, California, was arrested Monday in connection with altering the Hollywood sign to read “HOLLYWeeD” on New Year’s Day, police said.
Zachary Cole Fernandez surrendered at 12:10 P.M. to LAPD detectives in Hollywood, according to Captain Cory Palka. He was booked on suspicion of trespassing, a misdemeanor offense, and released on $1,000 bail two hours later.
At around 3 A.M. on January 1, police said surveillance footage showed a lone male suspect dressed in black, tactical-style gear scaling the sign and hanging tarps over O’s to change them to E’s. The sign was not damaged during the prank.
“The Hollywood Sign has seen many alteration attempts over the years for people seeking notoriety or commercial gain,” Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu said in a statement. “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.”
Days after the sign alteration, Fernandez, who calls himself “Jesus Hands,” told Vice that he and his creative partner and former wife Sarah Fern were responsible for the prank.
Fern told the online magazine that they “mapped it out together and double checked measurements and everything” before using a rope to swing around the letters and clamps to clip fabric to them. The whole thing took around two hours.
The prank, they said, was an homage to Daniel Finegood, a student and activists who pulled off a similar stunt n 1976. Finegood’s wife Bonnie told CBS This Morning that her late husband’s alteration of the sign had been meant as a “message” about California legislation relaxing marijuana possession laws, rather than a joke.
His group was also responsible for scaling the sign in 1987 and changing it once again to read “Ollywood” during the Iran-Contra scandal.
Main photo: “Hollyweed” sign [mass thepan/CBS This Morning – YouTube (screenshot)]