The billboard was an advertisement by Battlefield Las Vegas, a veteran-owned business located just outside the Las Vegas Strip. The activist group INDECLINE, known for displaying naked, life-size statues of President Trump in public spaces in major U.S. cities, claimed responsibility for altering the billboard. A video from the group showed members in black masks and black clothing climbing a ladder in the middle of the night and placing what appears to be a printed poster over the original letters.
The group said in a statement that the billboard alteration was in response to the United States’ “longstanding obsession with gun culture.” In another statement posted on Instagram Thursday night, INDECLINE attacked the National Rifle Association and called the powerful gun lobby a “nefarious” corporation that values gun access over human life.
“It’s difficult to have a conversation these days about gun reform over the sound of AR-15’s and the screams of victims. We’ve reached a point in American culture where mass shootings, some involving children, are tolerable,” the group said, adding later: “INDECLINE isn’t anti-gun. Some of the members of this collective own guns. We’re also not calling for the complete eradication of weapons. … There needs to be reform and it needs to happen now.”
The NRA has not responded to a request for comment.
The billboard features an image of a .50-caliber sniper rifle, a powerful military weapon capable of penetrating armored vehicles. It’s located not far from the site of a mass shooting that left 58 people dead and hundreds injured on Oct. 1, 2017. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is investigating the vandalism, a spokesman told the Associated Press.
A spokeswoman for Lamar Advertising, which created the billboard, said it was “immediately removed … at the request of authorities” and that the company is cooperating.
Battlefield Las Vegas, according to its website, is a firing range business with a “five-acre military style complex,” a 25-yard indoor shooting range, and a 200-acre desert training facility for customers “to enjoy our collection of over 350 fully automatic machine guns.” The Washington Post was unable to reach the company for comment Friday.
INDECLINE grabbed headlines in 2016 for unveiling nude and unflattering statues of Trump, then a presidential candidate, in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Seattle.
“The Emperor Has No B–––s,” as the project is called, arrives several months after the group covered stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with the names of African Americans who have been killed by police. In the past, the collective has also claimed responsibility for an anti-Trump “Rape” mural on the U.S.-Mexico border and a massive piece of graffiti art in California’s Mojave Desert, The Post’s Peter Holley reported.
In January, the group said it built a satirical cemetery at a property in Bedminster, N.J., that Trump once slated for his final resting place. The group circulated a video purporting to show installation of satirical gravestones with messages targeting the Trump presidency, The Post’s Justin Wm. Moyer reported.
Among the writings on the gravestones at “Trump Cemetery” were:
“Here in lies the American Dream,” dated around the time Trump’s entry ban was implemented.
“Here in lies the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau … slowly starved by Mick Mulvaney,” dated around the time Mulvaney took over the agency.
INDECLINE describes itself as an “American Activist Collective,” a group of “graffiti writers, filmmakers, photographers and full-time rebels and activists.”