Charges filed against aspiring rapper who scaled traffic sign on 110 Freeway
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)
How’s this for taking the rap?
An aspiring rapper who scaled an exit sign on the 110 Freeway clad only in boxer shorts and a pair of sneakers last year is getting a little more attention than he likely bargained for.
Alexander Dunn, 30, is now facing five misdemeanor charges including resisting an officer, trespassing, causing a public nuisance and refusing to abide by a peace officer’s instructions as part of the June 27 incident, Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer announced Wednesday.
The publicity stunt forced officials to shut down the southbound lanes of the freeway for two hours — creating a massive traffic jam through downtown — as police and firefighters tried to coax the man down.
After he scaled the sign, Dunn allegedly unfurled political banners stating “Give a hoot, don’t pollute” and “Fight pollution not each other” and began dancing, vaping and shouting from a bullhorn, authorities said.
“This outrageous conduct required the intervention of precious emergency services to assure it ended safely, stopped traffic for nearly two hours and interfered with the lives and work of thousands of commuters,” Feuer said. “We will hold the defendant accountable for his reckless, selfish actions.”
Dunn told a Times reporter Wednesday that he had not heard about the charges. He did not have an immediate comment.
The California Highway Patrol began receiving reports of a man on a traffic sign just after 8 a.m. in the middle of rush hour, authorities said at the time. Callers reported the man was hanging banners, while others questioned whether he was suicidal.
Witnesses said the man was alternating between yelling about himself, love and God, and freestyle rapping. He also took breaks and would sit down and vape.
Los Angeles firefighters placed two enormous inflatable cushions beneath the freeway sign as officers tried to remove him. At about 10 a.m. — two hours after the incident began — Dunn was seen on video backflipping off the sign onto the cushions. He was then taken into custody.
Dunn, who performs under the stage name Dephree, was being recorded throughout the incident, Dunn’s manager King Graint told The Times last year. The images were released in a music video posted on Youtube a day later.
Graint, who declined to give his real name, told a Times reporter in 2018 that the act wasn’t all about self-promotion. The performer also wanted to deliver a message about the environment.
“You ain’t poppin’ unless you got haters,” Graint said at the time. Dunn, he said, wouldn’t care about people being stuck in traffic “because the bigger picture is saving the environment and rapping.”
Dunn says in the video that he plans to donate half of his profits from the song to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“The Earth is reaching a tipping point,” he said in the video. “We gotta act now to give our home a chance to heal.”
If convicted, Dunn faces a maximum of three years in jail and a fine of $3,000. Dunn also faces thousands of dollars in restitution for emergency response costs, according to the city attorney.
Times staff writer Benjamin Oreskes contributed to this report.
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