California Highway Patrol officers watch as a man who had scaled a freeway sign and shut down the southbound 110 Freeway does a backflip onto massive inflatable cushions set up below in downtown Los Angeles.(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
California Highway Patrol officers surround a shirtless man as he climbs a freeway sign in downtown Los Angeles.(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
California Highway Patrol officers attempt to remove a shirtless man who scaled a freeway sign and shut down the southbound 110 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles.(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
A man wearing only boxer shorts and shoes strikes a pose after scaling a sign over the 110 Freeway and shutting down southbound traffic in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday.(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters and California Highway Patrol officers attempt to remove a shirtless man from a sign over the 110 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles.(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
A man who climbed a sign spanning the 110 Freeway, shutting down traffic in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday morning, is taken into custody after jumping off the sign onto giant inflatable cushions set up below.(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
It turns out that shutting down the 110 Freeway for a publicity stunt may not be a fiscally prudent idea.
In late June, underwear-clad rapper Alexander Dunn — whose stage name is Dephree — climbed up a downtown Los Angeles freeway sign with several large banners and a vape pen. He refused to come down, and instead rapped about the environment and engaged in an hours-long standoff with law enforcement officers.
This moment of peak virality caused one of the city’s busiest transportation arteries to shut down during the morning commute for nearly two hours and sparked frustration among countless motorists.
Dunn capped it off with a backflip onto an enormous inflatable mattress and into the arms of law enforcement.
A spokesman for the California Highway Patrol said Tuesday the agency would be “working along with the district attorney’s office in seeking restitution.”
“We will be submitting our investigative reports to the district attorney’s office, and any methodology or calculation will be put together by the district attorney’s office,” said Officer Robert Gomez.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office declined to comment. Dunn was booked June 27 on suspicion of delaying a police officer, trespassing on state property and failure to obey a regulatory sign.
He’s scheduled to be in court for his first appearance Thursday.
In 2010, an Orange County band enraged thousands of motorists by blocking the 101 Freeway in Hollywood to perform an impromptu rendition of “Traffic Jam 101” on top of a truck. A judge later ordered band members to pay Caltrans nearly $40,000 in restitution.
Unlike Dephree, the Imperial Stars had about 20 minutes before being swarmed by law enforcement. In that instance, the truck’s driver ran off with the keys, so they had to tow the vehicle away.
After the judge ordered the band’s members to pay up in 2013, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said the restitution figure was for the “cost of disruption in traffic.”
In this circumstance, the traffic problems were far more profound.
On Tuesday, Dunn took some time away from his job as a sober living companion to head over to Comedy Central for a meeting. It was an opportunity that came as a result of his antics on the freeway, his fiancée, Christine Rebholz, said.
“I don’t think they would have asked him on the show if he didn’t,” she said. “It’s just been constant working to soak up as much of this opportunity as possible.”
In an interview, Dunn insisted that he hasn’t made any money off the stunt. He toggled between remorse for the trouble he caused commuters and haranguing his fellow humans for how they treat their planet. Among the banners Dunn hung from the freeway sign were ones that read, “Fight pollution not each other,” and, “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.”
“I understand that my action inconvenienced a lot of people, and that was not my intention. I apologize to anyone inconvenienced by me and I assume full responsibility for my actions, and whatever consequence that they give me, I will accept it and make good on it,” Dunn said.
“Humanity is screwing over the planet in a major way. We too will go extinct if we don’t change our ways.”