Richmond, VA mom, Susan Mortensen is scheduled to serve 50 hours of community service for an unthinkable crime -- she let her 4-year-old draw on rocks with sidewalk chalk.
After Mortensen was ticketed for vandalism in March, police said that there had been a problem with people painting on rocks and they were trying to crack down, WTVR reports. The 29-year-old mother's friends were outraged. Following the incident, a group gathered outside the police headquarters and left their own chalk messages on the sidewalk.
Mortensen told WTVR that the instance has had a negative effect on her daughter. "She’s very scared of chalk for one ...The protest we had did help with that, made her feel a little better. And she’s very nervous around cops,” she said.
Mortensen appeared in court on Tuesday, and her friends showed up again to scribble in protest outside. But inside, the officer revealed that the 4-year-old doodling wasn't Mortensen's only offense. NBC12 reports that when mom was ticketed "she responded with an attitude and curse words." Mortensen declined to comment on that accusation. Also, according to WTVR, court records show that the same officer convicted Mortensen for painting on rocks two years ago. She didn't think her previous mishap should have had any bearing on the current charge.
The judge has ordered Mortensen to paint 200 boundary posts on the sides of a bridge. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, if she doesn't complete the work by January, she will face a $2,500 fine. Though Mortensen agreed that her punishment was fair, NBC12 reports that her "supporters" are still upset that chalk is considered graffiti. "When you spray paint something, it's pretty much there. But when you chalk something, it rains, it's gone," Meg McLain with Virginia Cop Block told the news station.
This isn't the first time that sidewalk chalk has ruffled feathers recently. In June, a Colorado neighborhood tried to ban all local children from coloring on their sidewalks. They claimed "chalk art makes the communal area less pleasant for others."