An unnamed Riverside city employee stands inside a letter carved into the hillside by a vandal on Riverside’s Mount Rubidoux.
The words “Google Flat Earth” were found carved into Mount Rubidoux this week in letters that were approximately ten feet tall and visible from the air.
An aerial photo posted to social media by the Riverside Police Department’s air support unit showed only the “Google” portion of the message was still discernible as of Feb. 4.
While the Riverside Parks Department brought in crews from a CAL FIRE camp in Norco to re-seed the area so the grass can grow and cover up the letters, a man believed to be behind the message reportedly encountered a city employee at the location Monday.
He was wearing an orange construction-style vest and carrying a shovel and pick, city parks director Adolfo Cruz told the Press-Enterprise.
“The gentleman was telling the staff member that we live on a flat earth,” the report quoted Cruz as saying.
In the past few weeks, an unusual message began showing up along the northwestern side of Riverside’s Mount Rubidoux.
In large letters, someone had carved into the grass the words, in all capitals: “GOOGLE FLAT EARTH.”
City parks workers began noticing the words – created by removing grass – about a month ago, Cruz said. Employees had just reseeded the hillside near Carlson Dog Park where the 10-by-4-foot letters were carved, he said.
Parks workers reseeded the hill again. But the culprit began writing the words again and larger – this time 25 feet by 10 feet, Cruz said. The carvings likely took “hours and hours of work,” he said.
“He’s done quite a bit of damage there that will cause further damage when it rains and it creates erosion,” Cruz said.
Parks workers saw the man they believe is the culprit at least once before, Cruz said. Also, a city employee saw him again Monday coming down the hill, he said.
Because of concerns about the man’s mental state, Cruz told workers to let police handle the situation. The city gave police the video and a license plate number for the man’s car.
Riverside police spokesman Officer Ryan Railsback said officers are investigating. The suspect could be cited for vandalism or violating a city ordinance, he said.
Cruz said the city is calculating its costs, estimated at $400, and could seek reimbursement from the suspect.
City workers already have worked to make the words illegible and are reseeding the area again.