Sidewalk chalk art lands mom in trouble with the law

6:46 PM, Aug 6, 2012   |    comments
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WWBT - A Virginia judge found enough evidence to convict a Richmond mother charged with vandalism, but he's delaying a final disposition until she performs community service hours.

Susan Mortensen, 29, allowed her daughter to draw on rocks on Belle Isle with chalk. Mortensen will now serve 50 hours of community service in order for the judge to dismiss her charge.

Outside the courthouse, people showed support for Mortensen with their own chalk on the sidewalk.

However, in court, the officer who reprimanded her back in March says she responded with an attitude and curse words.

"I don't think I should comment on that," said Mortensen. "I agree that the outcome is something I would agree with and I thought it would help as far as doing community service."

Mortensen has since then apologized. She's agreed to complete 50 hours of community service through the James River Park System.

Mortensen will have to paint about 200 boundary posts. Before she even starts, she'll have to scrape off the old paint and remove surrounding weeds. She'll need to finish the project before the weather gets too cold for the paint to stick.

The parks manager says he'd like to set a date before Thanksgiving.

Mortensen's supporters say they're still upset she was charged for letting her daughter draw on the rocks.

Police and park leaders say chalk is the same as graffiti.

"There's no way to compare two," said Meg McLain with Virginia Cop Block. "When you spray paint something, it's pretty much there. But when you chalk something, it rains, it's gone. You'll never know."

"It is all the same thing," said Ralph White, James River Park Systems Park Manager. "A couple of weeks ago, I was covering over pornographic drawings done in chalk. It doesn't matter what the medium is. It's offensive."

Even though both sides share their point-of-views, they agreed on a common ground to help beautify the James River Park System.

Back in 2010, court documents show the same officer issued Mortensen a summons for destruction of property on Belle Isle.

Mortensen is scheduled to start her community service this week.


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