Mom scheduled to serve community service for chalk vandalism

Published: Jul. 31, 2012 at 4:37 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 7, 2012 at 2:40 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond judge found enough evidence to convict a mom charged with vandalism, but delayed a final disposition until she performs community service.

29-year-old Susan Mortensen allowed her daughter to draw on a few rocks on Belle Isle with chalk. Now, she will have to serve 50 hours of community service in order for the judge to dismiss her charge.

Outside the courthouse, people supporting Susan Mortensen made their own chalk drawings on the sidewalk. However, in court, Officer Stacy Rogers says she responded to him with a bad attitude and curse words when confronted in March.

"I don't think I should comment on that," said Mortensen after the trial. "I agree that the outcome is something I would agree with and I thought it would help as far as doing community service."

Mortensen has since apologized and agreed to paint about 200 boundary posts west and east of the Boulevard Bridge. Before she even starts, she'll have to scrape off the old paint and remove surrounding weeds. It's vital to finish the project before the weather gets too cold for the paint to stick.

Mortensen's supporters say they're still upset she was charged for letting her daughter draw on the rocks, while police and park officials say chalk is the same as graffiti.

"There's no way to compare two," Meg McLain with Virginia Cop Block. "When you spray paint something, it's pretty much there. But when you chalk something, it rains, it's gone. You'll never know."

"It is all the same thing," said James River Park Systems Park Manager Ralph White. "A couple of weeks ago, I was covering over pornographic drawings done in chalk. It doesn't matter what the medium is. It's offensive."

Even though both sides share their point-of-views, they agreed on a common ground to help beautify the James River Park System.

Back in 2010, court documents show the same officer issued Mortensen a summons for destruction of property on Belle Isle.

Mortensen is scheduled to start her community service this week.

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