Police discovered the images, painted on either end of the sign, early Tuesday morning. (Natalya Estrada — Contributed)

Graffiti images painted on the Humboldt State University entryway sign at the intersection of L K Wood Boulevard and Sunset Avenue were covered with fresh paint soon after police discovered it Tuesday morning.

The painted images, each on one end of the sign, depicted a child staring out from behind a chain-link fence. The word “ILLEGAL,” in all capital letters, was inscribed underneath, appearing to call attention to the ongoing separation of children from their parents at the United States-Mexico border.

The graffiti was estimated to have been applied sometime overnight — no earlier than 8:30 p.m. Monday, police said.

Within just a few hours of HSU police officers noticing the graffiti, university facilities workers painted over the image with fresh paint matching the existing color of the sign.

Within a few hours, university facilities workers had painted over the offending images. (Shomik Mukherjee — The Times-Standard)

HSU Police Department Sgt. John Packer directed information to the university’s marketing and communications department, which said police are investigating the incident.

“(Officers) photographed it and took some notes, and will look back through their records of previous graffiti on campus to see if there are similarities,” Grant Scott Goforth, HSU public information officer, told the Times-Standard over email.

“They’ll also check with Arcata Police to see if they’ve discovered graffiti that’s the same or similar,” he said.

UPD estimated charges for the incident could range between $50 and $100.

If police locate a suspect who turns out to be a student, the university could pursue an investigation in addition to the criminal charges the suspect would face. The university code of conduct outlines “unauthorized destruction or damage to University property” as grounds for discipline.

A student found guilty of the graffiti could potentially face expulsion or academic probation from the university, Goforth told the Times-Standard over the phone Tuesday.

Shomik Mukherjee can be reached at 707-441-0504.

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