Virginia Mom Punished for Allowing Daughter to Use Sidewalk Chalk

A 4-year-old Virginia girl’s chalk drawings on rocks at a park near her Richmond, Virginia home have earned her mother a ticket for vandalism and a punishment of 50 hours of community service, news sources are reporting.  The Belle Isle city park had reportedly recently been vandalized with graffiti, which prompted police to give 29-year-old Susan Mortensen a ticket for her daughter’s drawings. From NBC 12, the Richmond station:

Outside the courthouse, people support Susan 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 after the trial. 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 west and east of the Boulevard Bridge. Before she even starts, she’ll have to scrape off the old paint and remove surrounding weeds. It’s vital 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.

Image: Sidewalk chalk, via Shutterstock.

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  1. by Eric

    On August 8, 2012 at 5:17 am

    I think the actual act of using sidewalk chalk is not that bad if you take your own effort to wash it off and that using it in fragile ecosystems, probably not recommended.

    The biggest thing was the attitude. Perhaps if she had responded in a “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that its not just a harmless thing that can be washed off. Here, let me take care of it…Is that OK now, officer?” Lay it on thick with cooperation without sounding sarcastic.

    Then right your letter about how the officers over-reacted and the interpretation is too broad if the officers still wrote her a ticket. The punishment is not severe and in keeping with the nature of the “offense.”

    Frankly, if its not your property, you really shouldn’t be marking it up. Parks and other public venues are a “leave it as you found it” use policy.

  2. by David E.

    On August 10, 2012 at 5:36 am

    Technically, chalk is made of Gypsum, Calcite or Limestone. It is a mineral and technically about as harmless as dirt. If she really wanted to get technical, she could have successfully argued that it was colored dirt on the sidewalk as part of a science experiment regarding the Mohs Scale of Hardness!!! LOL

  3. by Dez A.

    On August 15, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    My wife and I are both commenting because our opinion to this issue as follows…First, everybody should respect the law! Second, doesn’t chalk washes away!? LOL. Third, Please give us a break, Virginia does have a jail system, use the prisoners to do these “chores”! Why put a mother through this! Why take the mother away from her young child while she is doing community service! And four, The judge has the last voice/word! And for that the judge in charge of this case is…(fill in the blank) and please be respectful! But do understand that our comment is a negative one! We pray everyday, hope our government and the officials in charge our straight an honest people! Good Luck with that and May God Bless America!

  4. by dee

    On November 15, 2012 at 5:44 am

    Is this a joke? my god mother who killed her daughter get away with murder in fla. this mother plays with hers at a park and side walk chalk is not bad it washes away virgina law lol is a joke. use the court for something needed like killers roberies rapeiest

  5. by Don Moel

    On November 22, 2012 at 8:44 am

    This is what you get when the north moves south!