A Richmond, Va. mother has been ordered to perform 50 hours of community service because she let her daughter draw on rocks with chalk.
Susan Mortensen, 29, was ticketed for vandalism in March after she allowed her 4-year-old daughter to use sidewalk chalk on rocks at Belle Isle, a small city park island in Richmond, WTVR-TV reported. A judge on Tuesday ordered her to paint 200 outdoor posts by Jan. 3 or face a $2,500 fine, according to WWBT-TV.
Officer Stacy Rogers testified that when Mortensen was told drawing on rocks was not allowed, she became "verbally abusive," according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Mortenen's lawyer, G. Brian Tacey, told the judge his client knew she overreacted and was sorry for the confrontation with police.
Police and park officials have said they've had a problem with people drawing on the rocks and have cracked down on property defacement. They've also said chalk is the same thing as graffiti, according to WWBT.
According to WTVR, it's actually not the first time Mortensen has been in trouble over the rocks at Bell Isle: She was convicted of property destruction two years ago for painting on them.
On Tuesday, People gathered outside the court to support her, bringing buckets of their own chalk and drawing on the sidewalk.
One supporter, Meg McLain, told WWBT there's no comparison between chalk and graffiti.
"When you spray paint something, it's pretty much there. But when you chalk something, it rains, it's gone. You'll never know," McCLain said.
James River Park Systems Park Manager Ralph White disagreed.
"It is all the same thing," White insisted. "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."
According to the Times-Dispatch, Tacey said the judge will likely dismiss Mortensen's vandalism charge once she completes the community service.