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Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011 03:32 pm

CHALK TALK

Kids playing hopscotch is one thing.

But after weeks of decorating downtown sidewalks with symbols, slogans and quotations, members of Occupy Springfield have gotten crosswise with police, who last week issued a pair of $500 vandalism tickets for quoting Aristotle with the help of chalk on a sidewalk outside the downtown office of U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria.

“Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime,” occupiers wrote.

Schock’s office could not be reached for comment, but deputy chief Cliff Buscher says that someone from the congressman’s office had complained about chalkings. Other businesses had also complained, according to Buscher, who says that employees were cleaning up chalk graffiti on sidewalks, only to have it reappear hours later.

Anthony Stephens, a member of Occupy Springfield, said that the two occupiers who received $500 citations will fight their cases. If markings aren’t permanent, he said, it’s not vandalism.

“We have no doubt it will be thrown out of municipal court,” Stephens said.

Buscher, however, said that he believes the citations were appropriate because cleaning up graffiti written with chalk costs money.

Ward 3 Ald. Doris Turner, who was interviewed by a television station outside Schock’s office a few hours before citations were issued, said that she saw occupiers drawing on the sidewalk with chalk and it did not occur to her that a crime was in progress.

“I really didn’t think anything about it,” Turner says.
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