ScaupHunter wrote:Physical destruction of property is completely different than kids chalk that washes off in the rain or blows away in the wind over time. Your analogy doesn't work. Speaking of taking it over the top.........
One destroys property the other doesnt even technically deface it since it quickly goes away in the the natural environment. The bank was pissy, wielded influence, and the guy just had his individual rights denied to get a conviction by a judge who should never have sat the bench. I have dealt with grafitti, and other vandalism laws on a lot of properties. Locally this one would have been handled through a simple citation by an officer with a small fine, then run through the lower courts.
The only difference between paint and chalk is the amount of effort to remove it. So what happens if the incident happened in Phoenix during the dry season? The graffiti would last for weeks or months.
The first amendment is no defense for vandalism, ever. Vandalism is vandalism whether it is on public or private property. There is no distinction.
There has to be damage for it to be vandalism. Chalk is no permanent and thus does not qualify. Now harrassment might just fly in court and could potentially be a valid complaint. As for private vs public property. That totally changes everything. Who is pressing charges, who has rights to press charges, who gets compensated, etc.... If the chalk was on public property this is a complete BS case and never should have been pursued. It is chalk. We would have laughed about it here locally. It it was on private property it is still a BS case. They have full time staff that works maintenance and operations that can take 5 minutes out of their day to sweep some chalk off the concrete. $6,000 my ***! We have a grafitti crew that works full time here. I asked them what they would do about the chalk. They chuckled and said nothing, or just hit it with a stiff broom with a sweep or two and it is gone. There are a lot of factors here. The big one seeming to be infringement of the freedom of expression. The other being big business getting it's undies in a wad about being called to task. Then using the gang enforcement office as their personal bully boys. It was clearly not gang related and as such that is abuse of the police and wasting of a government officials time.
If they were so bent about this they could have just taken the man to court and handled it through civil action. Except they know it would have been thrown out on First Amendment issues there.