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Artist arrested for chalk drawing on sidewalk, misdemeanor criminal damages

Artist arrested for chalk drawing on sidewalk, misdemeanor criminal damages

photo via NikiSublime

An artist who originally garnered attention for his role in Occupy LA in 2011 has been arrested for making a drawing on the sidewalk in front of a Chase Bank, with chalk. In this case Alexander was not making one of those super cool perspective drawings on the sidewalk, instead he wrote ‘Crooks’ and then ‘Crime’ next to the Chase logo. This obviously upset someone and the police were called and Alex was taken away in cuffs.

When Alexander Schaefer used chalk to make a drawing on a public sidewalk it was a ‘misdemeanor vandalism’ under California law. For some clarification we found the website of Neil Shouse, a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, who talks about this charge. Specifically what constitutes ‘misdemeanor vandalism’:

  1. that you “defaced with graffiti or other inscribed material”, damaged, or destroyed another person’s property,
  2. that you did so maliciously, and
  3. that the amount of the defacement, damage, or destruction was either (a) less than $400 in a misdemeanor prosecution, or (b) $400 or more in a felony prosecution.

via Shouse Law Group

Following this list we see that Alex could be considered guilty of defacing with inscribed material on another person’s property. Since it was a public sidewalk a court and/or judge will usually assume that the property was not Alex’s. The second part is about Alex’s intent, was it malicious or an accident? Based on his history as a protestor against banks the court will probably not see this as an accident. The third part covers that it was less than $400 in damage thus making it a misdemeanor since washing the chalk off probably took all of 2 minutes.

In Arizona this would be charged under ‘Criminal Damages’ and Alex could face up to 4 months in jail with a $750 fine. If you or someone you know is facing ‘Criminal Damages’ charges in Arizona please feel free to call us 24/7 at 602-307-0808.

Alexander Schaefer, the artist behind the “burning banks” series, was arrested Monday afternoon, the LA Weekly reports. The arrest of the artist whose popularity skyrocketed in the height of Occupy LA, came less than two weeks after the clash between LAPD and Occupy protesters at the “Chalk Walk” chalk drawing demonstration.

Last week on his blog, Shaefer wrote: “I drew this on the public sidewalk in chalk at 9th and Hill in front of Chase Bank.” Below the text read “CROOKS” in capital letters next to the Chase logo. A few feet away, the doors to the bank are visible, so patrons can see the text as they enter and exit the building. Today, Shaefer stepped it up and wrote “CRIME” in capitals next to the Chase logo. Apparently this act was so offensive something had to be done about it, so Shaefer was charged with misdemeanor vandalism…for drawing in chalk outside of a bank.

Not surprisingly, the artist is no stranger to bizarre police encounters. Last year, he wrote on his blog, “I started another burning bank painting today, this time the Chase branch in Van Nuys. I got lots of thumbs up and likes from passersby but after an hour and a half the cops showed up. They said someone called thought I might be a terrorist.” The LA Times reported that officers showed up to Shaefer’s home the next day, asking questions. The artist said the officers demanded, “Do you hate banks?”

You can see photos of the brush up today over on Ed Fuentes’ blog here.

What do you think, readers? Should “misdemeanor vandalism” charges really be applied to chalk drawings? Let us know in the comments section below. via Huffpost

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