Police ticket woman for kid's chalk drawings

Published: Mar. 19, 2012 at 4:01 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 19, 2012 at 9:33 PM EDT
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Courtesy: Susan Mortensen
Courtesy: Susan Mortensen

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond woman upset after she's ticketed for her daughter drawing on rocks with chalk.

Lots of people go to Belle Isle to enjoy the warm weather. That's what Susan Mortensen said she was doing when she came down with her four year-old daughter and used some sidewalk chalk to draw on some of the rocks.

Now she's banned from all city parks.

"I asked him, 'how am I destroying property?'" Mortensen said.  "I don't see how I'm destroying this rock by using chalk."

Officer Stacy Rogers patrols Belle Isle.  He's the one that wrote the ticket.

He said his goal is to keep the park clean for everybody.

"Essentially what we're trying to do is leave behind only footprints when they come into the parks," Rogers said.

He said chalk doesn't always wash away in the rain and often city crews have to come clean it.

Rogers said he's given warnings for things like this in the past but often he'll see the same people breaking the rules again.

He said people learn their lesson after getting a ticket.

But NBC12 Legal Analyst Steve Benjamin says he's not sure Mortensen should have been ticketed at all.

He says you're not responsible for the actions of your child and the law about destroying public property only covers permanent damage.

"Using sidewalk chalk to draw some little doodle on a rock is not criminal," Benjamin said.  "If that were criminal, so would hopscotch, writing 'Johnny loves Susie' on the sidewalks."

Mortensen says she's brought chalk to the park before and has not received a ticket.

"A lot of people bring chalk down there with their kids because they know it's washable," Mortensen said.  "It's something fun to do that's safe. You don't have to stay in the water the whole time. Yeah chalk is commonly used down there."

Mortensen said her ticket costs more than $300. She's scheduled to be in court in June.

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