December 22, 2010
I complained to the Phoenix Police today about being handcuffed and perp-walked Wednesday morning while exercising my First Amendment rights outside of City Hall. Then I informed them of my intention to chalk in front of their HQ. I was really just telling them what I was up to so I wouldn't get tasered or shot; I wasn't asking them for permission or to cut me a "break".
It didn't go over very well.
We argued for about 20 minutes, during which time one officer insisted that the "ground" in the Arizona Revised Statutes (pasted below) refers to dirt, not the sidewalk or street or anything paved. I was ultimately threatened with arrest on the spot and being booked into jail for criminal damage if I proceeded to chalk the walk, which I did.
I told them as I was walking out the door that I'd respect their access to their loading zone - which one officer made a good point about - but that as I understood it, chalking sidewalks isn't against the law, and if they really believed it was to come and get me. I'd rather have it out once and for all in court than haggle with them about it every time. Sooner or later, one of them is bound to hurt me.
They left me alone once I got started. They didn't even take down my personal information when I offered it (they probably already know who I am and where I live...).
Perhaps the "Graffitti Detectives" will chase me down another day. In the meantime, though, since my free speech at City Hall had just been stomped on, I still needed to make a "Happier New Year" card.
Let me know which one you like most and I'll send it to you -
just be sure to give me your snail mail address.
13-1602. Criminal damage; classification
A. A person commits criminal damage by recklessly:
1. Defacing or damaging property of another person; or
2. Tampering with property of another person so as substantially to impair its function or value; or
3. Tampering with or damaging the property of a utility.
4. Parking any vehicle in such a manner as to deprive livestock of access to the only reasonably available water.
5. Drawing or inscribing a message, slogan, sign or symbol that is made on any public or private building, structure or surface, except the ground,
and that is made without permission of the owner.
B. Criminal damage is punished as follows:
1. Criminal damage is a class 4 felony if the person recklessly damages property of another
in an amount of ten thousand dollars or more.
2. Criminal damage is a class 4 felony if the person recklessly damages the property of a utility in an amount of five thousand dollars or more or if the person recklessly causes impairment of the functioning of any utility.
3. Criminal damage is a class 5 felony if the person recklessly damages property of another
in an amount of two thousand dollars or more but less than ten thousand dollars.
4. Criminal damage is a class 6 felony if the person recklessly damages the property of another
in an amount of one thousand dollars or more but less than two thousand dollars.
5. Criminal damage is a class 1 misdemeanor if the person recklessly damages property of another in an amount of more than two hundred fifty dollars but less than one thousand dollars.
6. In all other cases criminal damage is a class 2 misdemeanor.