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Dust-up: Chalk protesters face charges over Metro messages

Reported by: John Treanor
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Updated: 8/15/2013 3:42 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3.com) -- After four people were charged with misdemeanors for using washable chalk as a means of protest on the sidewalk in front of Metro police headquarters, questions arise whether it a police crackdown on graffiti or an infringement on First Amendment rights.

Those arrested are shocked that they could be facing some serious jail time and thousands of dollars in fines.

Hailee Jewel, 18, is with the Sunset Activist Collective. Its mission, members say, is to make the public aware of what they call police brutality. They are upset about the fact that despite dozens of police shootings the past several years, no officer has been charged for a crime.

“It just shocks me that I could be faced with that time just for writing on the sidewalk with chalk,” Jewel said.

The protesters were trying to make a statement but not a permanent one, and that’s why they chose chalk as their method.

But in the end, it didn’t matter what they used. The Clark County district attorney’s office said it’s a crime and now they could face one year in prison charged with a gross misdemeanor

“A child who uses chalk on a sidewalk is just that, a child,” Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said. “We're not talking about children defacing public property.”

The group’s attorney, Robert Langford, doesn’t buy that argument; he believes it was plain censorship.

“The message truly was a message criticizing Metro they didn’t like that, so they got officers to go out and arrest these people,” he said.

Despite two days in jail so far and a lengthy legal process ahead both Jewel and Brian Ballentine are defiant and say they don't plan on stopping their message any time soon.

“Show me a person that’s satisfied with this system,” Ballentine said. “I haven’t met that person.”

Jewell was charged with Placing graffiti on or defacing property, two counts, and Conspiracy to commit a non-felony crime, two counts.

Ballentine and Kelly Patterson were charged with placing graffiti on or defacing property, two counts, and conspiracy to two counts of committing a non-felony crime.

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