'If it can be washed away, it's not graffiti. But'
Ian Bertram over on Panchromatica picked up this story of everyday vandalism: a 6-year-old girl from Brooklyn is facing a $300 fine for drawing a picture with chalk.
Obviously not all of Natalie Shea’s 10th Street neighbors thought her blue chalk splotch was her best work — a neighbor called 311 to report the “graffiti,” and the Department of Sanitation quickly sent a standard letter to Natalie’s mom, Jen Pepperman.
As Ian says, 'what sort of idiot reports a 6 year old for chalking on the pavement?' - that is indeed the scary part.
Commenting, a spokesman for the NYPD said 'If it can be washed away, it's not graffiti, but it still could be criminal mischief.' My suggestion would be for a mass sidewalk-chalking day, with a major focus on the area around city hall. The city could be invited to sponsor the day, which would help pay for all the chalk. With a little sleight on the grant application it should be possible to make a $300 profit on the occasion, covering Natalie's costs. I hope she doesn't have a criminal record, but it wouldn't entirely surprise any of us anymore.
The story was followed up by the arrest (yes, arrest) in New York of a more mature street artist, again for chalking the sidewalk. Tsk, do I begin to sense a civilisation in decline?