This is just ridiculous, guys. Will you please wake the fuck up? They are arresting people all over the country today. FOR WRITING IN CHALK ON SIDEWALKS. Are you ready to admit that this is a nationwide coordinated effort to silence all dissent yet? Because I’m getting kind of tired of having to witness this crap and trying to convince you all that this is ACTUALLY happening. In our country.Image

Today, children and adults alike engaged in some very innocent play by drawing and writing in the sidewalk with chalk. We were expressing our right to free speech and assembly in a playful, impermanent way. The same way children have been expressing their rights to assemble and play for decades.The state troopers were gathered across the street, and an undercover agent (I shit you not) was parked across the street, watching us with binoculars. (I TOTALLY SHIT YOU NOT!)Image

We had enough time to do a significant amount of chalking before the 10 or so state troopers gathered up like they do. Sort of like a copflock. A murder of cops? At any rate, they huddled up, and soon approached en masse upon the 10 or so of us who were chalking and documenting the chalking.

Handcuffs out, they targeted two people: The guy with the mask, and the woman with the “Peaceful Streets” t-shirt on. Cuffed them, as we protested and questioned whether they even had jurisdiction where we were. The site was specifically chosen because it is public property and NOT on the capitol grounds. Maude knows we don’t want to have any more run-ins with officer “Can’t tell the difference between a neon green squirt gun and a real gun, so I can’t guarantee I won’t shoot your ass if you have a squirt gun out in my vicinity.”Image

That would be Officer Cummings, by the way. He was Officer Annoyingpants at the J4 celebration. Constantly interrupting our peaceful teach-ins to remind us that they were watching us and they wouldn’t let us get away with such nefarious things as Having Signs With Political Messages On Them, Drawing Flowers With Chalk, or Engaging in a Playful Water Fight On a Hot Summer Day, or Pitching a Symbolic Tent That Symbolizes Our Right to Fair Housing And Equal Consideration In Our Political Process, Regardless Of How Much Or Little Money We Have. He was the instigator-in-chief at this event, as well. I’m embarrassed for him. I asked him whether he plans to tell his children that he arrested people for drawing in chalk on the sidewalk today. I believe he’s the officer who told the children present that they were committing a crime and that chalk is destruction of property. I’m sure that seed will sprout into a healthy distrust of the police when those kiddos realize (if they didn’t already) that CHALK washes off and destroys NOTHING. (How hard is it to be a parent these days, when police officers do so many morally inappropriate things. How can anyone expect me to teach my highly skeptical children that they should obey laws because they are legitimate, and then have a police officer cite a law that is so completely illegitimate? Officer: You put me in an incredibly difficult place as a parent. I’m kind of used to being in that place, unfortunately, as I do my best to navigate the roles of activist parent, activist, parent, active parent, parent activist…while also attempting to do my best to allow my children the sovereignty to form their own ideas, even if that means their ideas often conflict with mine. Which is something I’m being asked to do a lot lately.

At any rate, after the two criminally mischievous ones were hauled away, Officer Cummings came across the street to shoot photos of our heinous crimes. (Remember, we are still talking about chalk, here.) Afterwards, he REACHED FOR HIS GUN as a random pedestrian made the mistake of running across the street without realizing that Officer Cummings is that trigger-happy dude who, as I said above, can not distinguish a plastic squirt gun from a real gun, a piece of chalk from an instrument of Criminal Mischief (class B, because I guess they had to justify having so many officers out for NON-PERMANENT CHALK THAT CAN BE WASHED AWAY WITH A BUCKET OF WATER.) and a guy trying to catch the light from a DANGEROUS PERSON ARMED WITH CHALK WHO MUST BE ELIMINATED. I am seriously concerned about Officer Cummings. Actually, I am seriously concerned that any member of our police force would choose to reach for a gun as a first response to any sort of pedestrian encounter without any solid eImagevidence or clue that said pedestrian, or anyone else in the vicinity, has any propensity to violence whatsoever.ImageIt’s a scary fucking world we live in where people can just be engaging in a harmless, fun, creative activity – A form of protest, but an entirely non-threatening, non-violent one – and can just be hauled away in handcuffs without any warning. I really thought I had seen it all when it comes to ridiculous police response for benign non-offenses. Apparently, I had not. I came away from our action today feeling yet more radicalized and at the same time more frightened of the erosion of my rights and the rights of all of us. It was sobering.

And like I came around to feeling about the arrest at J4, I very much feel like Audrey and Corey are superheroes for being arrested. They weren’t expecting it. None of us were. I mean, who actually expects to be arrested for chalking? We’ve all done it millions of times. The moment it becomes a crime is when it stops being “innocent” child’s play and starts becoming OUR CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH.
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As a parent, I know that kids can draw their own conclusions about that.
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