Sidewalk Chalking Is a Gateway Crime

The children of Brooklyn are guilty of many offenses against their neighbors: They cry during brunch, they cough on you in Target, and their giant lolling heads and flailing little limbs make the sidewalks a nightmare to navigate. But it's not very often that they commit actual crimes punishable by law. Today's Brooklyn Paper tells the story of one Natalie Shea, a 6-year-old Park Slope girl who was fined $300 by the city for defacing the sidewalk in front of her house with large sticks of colored chalk. The scribbles prompted a neighbor fluent in obscure local legislation to call 311 and report the little scofflaw. “According the New York penal law, graffiti is the etching, painting, covering, drawing, or otherwise placing of a mark upon public or private property with intent to damage such property,” an NYPD spokesman told reporter Gersh Kuntzman. “If it can be washed away, it’s not graffiti, clearly, but it still could be criminal mischief. If I cover your car with mustard, that’s not graffiti, but it’s also not legal.” Hm. Mustard. Anyway. Maybe you feel bad for Natalie, since she's only 6, and only playing? Don't! As you can see, she hasn't exactly learned her lesson — there she is doing it again (top left)! Look at that little smirk. Now if only they would criminalize those giant strollers…

New Face of Vandalism? [Brooklyn Paper]