‘Sad that you would go through that much trouble:’ Racial slur seen on e-signs in Oakleaf

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — An active investigation is underway after hateful messages appeared on two electronic signs in Clay County.

Shortly after 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, a viewer submitted a video to Action News Jax of one of the signs that’s located on Oakleaf Plantation Parkway between two local schools.

It displayed the words “I hate” followed by the N-word. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office said both signs displayed a message that included racial slurs.

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The viewer who didn’t want to be named, told Action New Jax reporter Jessica Barreto he had to turn the car around to make sure he was reading it correctly.

“What did you feel when you were able to catch a second glimpse at the sign and realize that it did in fact say what you thought it said?” Barreto asked.

The viewer responded, “I was like ‘Wow, wow, ok.’”

He added, “It’s sad that you would go through that much trouble, to cause trouble.”

Even then, he says he wasn’t surprised, explaining, “Because, just the times, times that we’re living in.”

“I mean, it’s not surprising,” echoed Byron Isaac who lives off Oakleaf Plantation Parkway where the sign in the video was located. Though he didn’t see the message, he told Action News Jax, “It’s kinda sad to say but I feel like there’s always going to be some type of racial tension no matter where we are.”

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Deputies were able turn the electronic signs off on Thursday by 6:15 a.m., though it’s not clear when the message first appeared and when exactly deputies were able to shut it off. CCSO is working to notify the signs’ private owner, whom it says likely doesn’t know these signs were vandalized.

Clay County leaders said the signs don’t belong to them, or the county engineering department.

Deputies have also dusted the box of the signs for fingerprints.

“Man, hats off to you guys,” Isaac said, referring to the deputies who were able to work quickly to disable the sign. “We appreciate what you guys are doing for us.”

“The Clay County Sheriff’s Office takes this matter very seriously and will be investigating this incident thoroughly,” the sheriff’s office said in a message written on social media, adding: “Those responsible will be held accountable.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 904-264-6512.

Aurielle Eady

Aurielle Eady, Action News Jax

Aurielle Eady is a digital content producer for Action News Jax.