A religious propaganda poster has popped up all over Burbank and surrounding communities. It has the police baffled and is proving hard to remove.
About 90 posters claiming that the Catholic Church is manipulating major newspapers, magazines and government agencies to cover up "crimes that they have done and are currently doing" have been glued to most of Burbank's 150 traffic control boxes during the past month.
The posters, which are covered with tightly packed, small type, have also been placed on construction site walls and buildings throughout Los Angeles, officials said.
Burbank authorities are bothered by more than just the message on the posters. Removing them is time-consuming because of the glue and will cost the city at least $9,000, a Burbank official estimated. The city may have to hire a private contractor to do the job because it cannot spare the manpower.
"It takes about $100 each to take down these posters, and we've only been able to get to about three of them," said Howard Jones, senior assistant traffic engineer, who has jurisdiction over street signs in Burbank. "They're an eyesore, but we don't have the resources necessary to take them down as fast as we want to. It's a real bad situation."
Neither Jones nor detectives have been able to determine who put the posters on the traffic boxes. They are not signed by an organization or an individual.
The first one was spotted about 30 days ago, and Jones said the most recent was put up about four days ago.
10 or 15 Posted in One Night
"There was one week when whoever is doing this put up about 10 or 15 of them in one night," Jones said. "One night when I was going home the boxes were clean, and the next morning they were up."
The poster is topped by the word "WARNING" in large type, followed by slightly smaller wording that reads: "The following organizations and publications are secretly owned or controlled by the Vatican."
Among the media organizations the poster names as "secret Vatican-controlled media" are all three television networks, Playboy, People and Good Housekeeping magazines, the Los Angeles Times and "many national magazine and newspaper chains."
The poster also names all federal and state government agencies, "including much of the judicial system and Supreme Court," as "Catholic government agencies to watch out for."
Jones said the posters have been affixed with a glue "which no solvent will dissolve. It's like a coat of paint. The posters have to be individually chiseled off, then we have to sand off the peeling paint on the cabinets and repaint the whole box."
The process takes about three hours, he said.
"Our priorities are emergency calls and maintenance, and we just can't spare the time," he said. "It will probably come down to us hiring a contractor to do this."
Detective Ira Allen of the Burbank Police Department said he had tried to figure out who had put up the posters but that the "perpetrators are slippery."
"If we ever find out who is doing this, we're going to get them to clean them off, and we're going to prosecute," Jones said. "But first we have to catch them."