A New Age of Crime: Sidewalk Chalk as Graffiti

Back in the 1980′s, New York City was generously decorated with graffiti.  Over the last two decades, the city managed to clean itself up, but they seemed to have missed one particular vandal, Brooklyn resident 6-year-old Natalie Shea30_40_graffitigirl2_z

Natalie’s mother received a citation for her daughter’s sidewalk chalk art that stated:
“PLEASE REMOVE THE GRAFFITI FROM YOUR PROPERTY,” … “FAILURE TO COMPLY … MAY RESULT IN ENFORCEMENT ACTION AGAINST YOU,” meaning a $300 fine.  Yes, for wash-away sidewalk chalk on her home’s stoop. 

When did this artistic, youthful pastime become a crime?  In 2005 the City Council
passed local law 111, which defined graffiti as “any letter,
word, name, number, symbol, slogan, message, drawing, picture, writing
… that is drawn, painted, chiseled, scratched, or etched on a
commercial building or residential building.”

The graffiti was reported by an anonymous caller to the city’s 311 helpline.  Natalie’s mother responded by saying, “He could have just asked! This whole thing is
ridiculous. Admittedly, this drawing was not her best work — she
usually sticks to cheerful scenes, not abstracts, frankly — but to send
a warning letter like that is outrageous
.” (Mom’s sarcasm is duly noted.)

Is Crayola also at fault as well for aiding in this heinous crime?  The title of their product is awfully incriminating.

Weather.com predicts rain for Wednesday.  Thank goodness this atrocity will be taken care of, once and for all.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Please share!

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  1. by Eli

    On October 15, 2007 at 10:15 am

    This is a really ridiculous citation. Who ever heard of complaining about a child’s sidewalk art? We should be encouraging out children to be free spirited in a city so confined.

  2. by Michael Cohen

    On October 15, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    Chalk is just a gateway instrument. Next thing you know and this hoodlum will be using water-based finger paint and then who knows. They should have slapped the toy hand cuffs on her and led her away to time-out for 15 minutes with no time off for good behavior. We’ve got to put a stop to this anarchy before it gets out of hand.

  3. by kathylynn

    On October 15, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Kids are just not allowed to be kids anymore.

  4. by Ladybug

    On October 15, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    I cannot even believe this is true! Incredible and very sad!

  5. by Amy from The Butrfly Garden

    On October 16, 2007 at 9:39 am

    I agree with the consensus that it’s SIDEWALK CHALK. It’s not permanent!
    However, The Man says that we don’t know the circumstances and it could have looked gang-related to the person who called. He also said, “a law is a law, you can’t let a white girl get away with something that a black kid would get in trouble for.” All hate mail should have the subject line read: “For The Man” please.
    Just kidding, please don’t send hate mail. But he is kind of right in that we don’t know the specifics. But I do happen to believe that sidewalk chalk should be specifically eliminated from their list of “graffiti tools.”

  6. by Brittany

    On October 16, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    I have to agree. This is a bunch of bull. I can see if she was drawing infront of SOMEONE ELSES HOUSE, but it was her own freakin house!! This world and the Laws are getting ridiculous!

  7. by Monica S

    On October 16, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Give me a Break. It’s washable sidewalk chalk for heaven’s sake.

  8. by Loretta

    On October 26, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    Wow, I can’t imagine how cranky a neighbor had to be to report such a ridiculous thing and call it graffiti?! and for the city to agree!?! WTF?
    I can’t imaging telling my kids that I have to go intentionally wash away their drawing … and not wait for the rain to do it!

  9. by jm in GA

    On October 27, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    Well, if someone complained about my kid’s sidewalk chalk, we’d have a problem. It’s illegal here (Georgia) to use any outside water. That includes washing cars and sidewalks. And I do have a neighbor that would call it in…either the washing or the drawings, so we’re hoping he doesn’t notice the drawings anytime soon.

  10. by Jason

    On October 30, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    She indicated “he” could have just asked, as if she knew the anonymous complainer. I imagine this is part of a long-running neighborhood feud.

  11. by ms

    On November 2, 2007 at 11:49 am

    This law and the zero tolerance approach to enforcement are 100% thanks to RUDY GULIANI…..vote democrat….any democrat….every single republican candidate is INSANE.