For much of the day, police treated the signs, which measure about 1 by 1 1/2 feet and feature protruding wires on one side, as potentially dangerous. But their investigation shifted when they happened to move one of the signs into a darker area. The sudden lack of sunlight prompted the lights forming the character’s image to brighten into color. Sometime between 2 and 3 p.m., according to a public safety official, a Boston police analyst recognized the image as a cartoon character, and police concluded it was likely a publicity stunt. [Emphasis added]
“Prosecutor Grossman explained the reason Boston reacted as it did is because bomb cops are trained to examine foreign objects for a power source and a circuit board and both were present in the Sullivan Square Mooninite, as well as duct tape attached to a red wire.
“They believed it was very possibly a bomb,” Grossman said, adding that an obscene cartoon leering back at them did little to throw them off. “Someone with a nefarious intent would do that on top of a bomb,” he said. “There’s a big difference between putting one on a rolled-down gate at Newbury Comics and putting one under the Longfellow Bridge.” [Emphasis added]