Chalking it up to age and... love of our civil rights.
|Sira meets Julia, 1984|
|4:15 am Jul 18, 2013|
But in my 60th year, chalking had a new element; First Amendment Rights. A few weeks ago, I had read about the then pending case of a young man being charged with 13 counts of "disorderly conduct" for chalking the following message "Corbett [Gov of PA] has health care and we should too." [see above] His fines could be as high as $13K and his sentence as long as 13 years. I was amazed. I was incredulous. Mostly, I was deeply affronted by this attack on our civil rights.
A friend showed me several instances of similar cases and this moved me to include a political statement in my artsy-fartsy birthday plans. Here is one of the cases that especially piqued my interest: "A jury Monday acquitted a 40-year-old man of all charges connected with writing protest messages in chalk on the sidewalk outside branches of the Bank of America. Deliberating for only a few hours, the jury...declared Jeff Olson not guilty on all 13 misdemeanor counts filed by Goldsmith’s office. Olson never denied writing the slogans.
5:00 am Jul 18, 2013
One slogan said, “No thanks, big banks.” Another, “Shame on Bank of America.” And in yet another, the bank was portrayed as an octopus grabbing at cash with its tentacles. “It’s chalk,” Filner told reporters last week in an exasperated tone. “It’s water-soluble chalk. They were political slogans.”But courts have held that graffiti remains illegal even if it can be easily washed off, Goldsmith said. That the Bank of America contacted the city attorney’s office to reportedly urge prosecution has become part of the dispute.
|6:35 am Jul 18, 2013|
|6:55 am Jul 18, 2013|
I called Peter Ditto at the DPW. Mr. Ditto said the main issues were about space - I must not block traffic and I must leave a 4' wide for handicap access. I explained that I had taken some pictures of where I wanted to work and would send them. I added that I try to work before rush hour, 5AM - 8AM and likely would need more than one day due to my day job schedule.
|7:00 am Jul 18, 2013|
So, I waited. And waited. On July 10, I received this email [below]… denying me permission. This is where my story may have taken a very different turn if not for my fortune to count as a friend and colleague an ace, 1st amendment lawyer. Enter (stage left) Michael Anderson.
|A civilized exchange|
Michael Anderson is a prestigious attorney, a wonderful storyteller and a fabulous Shakespearean actor as well. Michael's bio and tagline, which I have typed into many a program note ends with:
|8:01 am Jul 18, 2013|
It is a victory. I know. But seriously folks? I thought that the Bill of Rights protected us average citizens who normally cannot afford a consigliere. Did I really need to explain myself so extensively, then lawyer-up and persist just to do a few chalk drawings? Apparently, the answer is yes. But my lingering questions are, should this be? And, if so, what are we going to do about it ?
|Rosie takes a snap for me @ 6:55 am Jul 18, 2013|