Life Legal senior staff attorney Allison Aranda represented pro-lifer Craig Walterscheid at a pre-trial hearing this week. Craig, who has faithfully prayed outside abortion clinics for decades, was arrested and issued a citation for felony vandalism for sidewalk “chalking” outside a California abortion clinic.
The practice of using washable chalk on public sidewalks has always been a protected form of speech. But apparently First Amendment protections don’t apply when it comes to pro-life messages.
Craig used washable spray chalk to write out “Abortion is Murder” and “2363.org” on the public sidewalk outside the abortion mill. 2363.org is a campaign to raise awareness about the number of babies killed daily through abortion.
Spray chalk is frequently used in various types of protests, artwork, and even children’s games – yet none of the individuals involved in those activities have faced prosecution as Craig has.
Attorney Aranda succeeded in getting the charges reduced to misdemeanor offenses. But the abortion distortion continues. The court has scheduled a “restitution hearing” to determine whether Craig will have to pay for the cost of using a pressure washer to remove the chalk from the sidewalk.
Aranda experimented with the same type of sidewalk chalk used by Craig. She sprayed it on the sidewalk outside her home and then it started drizzling. The next day the chalk was gone. No pressure washer needed. A light spray from an ordinary garden hose would have done the trick.
It is outrageous that pro-lifers are subjected time and again to overzealous prosecution simply for exercising their First Amendment rights. Life Legal exists to defend pro-lifers against these unconstitutional attempts to silence their speech.
Mr. Walterscheid’s next hearing is on May 19.
A felony charge for washable chalk on a public sidewalk is clearly selective enforcement of the law and an abuse of power. This is clearly content based. Was anyone anywhere in the nation charged with a felony for using washable chalk during any other civil rights protests in the past few years?
Under California Penal Code § 594 vandalism is maliciously damaging, destroying or defacing another person’s property. Vandalism is a misdemeanor if the amount of the damage is less than $400.00. I’ve washed off my grandchildren’s chalk on our driveway and patio and it certainly is not $400 worth of damage.
There is a big difference between children drawing hopscotch or art on the sidewalk in front of their homes and this man defacing a public thoroughfare in front of a business that he does not own and to which he has no connection.
Carry a sign. Don’t graffiti the sidewalk. Don’t cry foul when justice is meted out to you.
Try chalking the sidewalk in front of McDonald’s with anti-McDonald’s messages or attempts to discredit the restaurant. Try chalking the sidewalk in front of a church with anti-Christian messages. See whether this guy’s claims to “free speech” will protect you in those cases. They won’t.
You don’t have a right to chalk up the sidewalk in front of a church with messages discrediting the church. You don’t have the right to chalk up the sidewalk in front of an abortion clinic with messages discrediting the clinic.
It’s not at all comparable to kids drawing in front of their homes.
Life Legal is trying to make it seem this man is being targeted because of his anti-abortion speech. He’s not. He’s being justly charged because he defaced a public thoroughfare in an attempt to harm a lawfully conducted business.
Can you name one person charged with a felony during massive chalking following the unjust death of George Floyd?
Do you honestly believe Craig Walterscheid isn’t being targeted for the content of his chalking?
If he isn’t, then others would be charged as well.
Try chalking anti-Muslim messages on the sidewalk outside a Mosque and see how well you fare.
270 attacks since 2022! These are real attacks and real vandalism. Pres. Biden and Merrick Garland look the other way— nothing to see here.
Vandalism is not a federal crime. It’s a state crime. Why would Biden or Garland be involved?
If the crime is on the abortion clinic property, however, it is also a federal offense.
“Vandalism is not a federal crime”.
Correct. It is now a federal perogative. https://www.military.com/daily-news/2022/10/06/austin-orders-renaming-of-bases-honor-confederate-rebels.html