Over the Fourth of July holiday, the Frederick Police Department received a number of complaints regarding "spray chalk" graffiti advertising a local beer festival. This graffiti was placed on sidewalks all over the downtown area. The recent heavy rains were not successful in washing the graffiti away, and DPW work crews are removing it. FPD is in contact with DPW in order to account for the costs of removal by the city and will request reimbursement from the responsible party.
FPD would like to take this opportunity to refer citizens and business owners to Frederick City Code 15-43, excerpted as follows:
"Graffiti Defined. As referred to herein, "graffiti" shall mean writings, drawings, inscriptions, figures or marks of paint, ink, chalk, dye or other similar substances on public or private buildings, structures, property or places which are not authorized or permitted under the city's codes and ordinances regulating signs. For the purposes of this section, graffiti shall include any form of drawings, writings, markings or inscriptions regardless of the content or the nature of materials used in the commission of the act, except as specifically exempted, as set forth herein.
Penalty—Perpetrator. Violation of subsection (c) of this section shall be declared to be a municipal infraction. Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall be punished by a fine not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) for a first offense, and five hundred dollars ($500.00) for a second and any subsequent offenses. Where a minor is found to have violated this section, the payment of any fine and court costs imposed by this section shall be the responsibility of such minor's parents or legal guardian.
Exemption. This section shall not be construed to prohibit temporary, easily removable chalk or other water soluble markings on public or private sidewalks, streets or other paved surfaces which are used in connection with traditional children's activities, such as drawing or bases for stickball, kickball, handball, hopscotch and the like, nor temporary, easily removable chalk or water soluble markings used in connection with any lawful business or public purpose, any approved public art project, or activity not otherwise prohibited by city code or ordinance."
Some business owners in the downtown area have occasionally applied sidewalk chalk immediately in front of their businesses to promote an event or daily special. These businesses are encouraged to request permission from the city before applying chalk to the city's sidewalks to ensure compliance with the ordinance.
The Frederick Police Department can and will continue to make arrests for malicious destruction of property under Maryland criminal law. In the present instance, while it is not believed there was any criminal intent, these unauthorized and prolific advertisements were a violation of city ordinance. To view the ordinance in its entirety, please refer to http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=16359.
Release prepared by: CPL Corbett (301) 600-6235
NAC 11, 9