I'd completely forgotten I wrote this three years ago:
Joshua Kinsberg has been released. But his bike and invention are impounded, at least until his court date on Friday (after the RNC is over).
NYC's anti-graffiti law is very strict:
"No person shall write, paint or draw any inscription, figure or mark of any type on any public or private building or other structure or any other real or personal property owned, operated or maintained by a public benefit corporation, the city of New York or any agency or instrumentality thereof or by any person, firm, or corporation, or any personal property maintained on a city street or other city-owned property pursuant to a franchise, concession or revocable consent granted by the city, unless the express permission of the owner or operator of the property has been obtained."
I wonder if the framers of that law realized they were banning kids from chalking hopscotch onto their schools' playground or onto the sidewalks in front of their houses. I wonder how many children have been arrested for chalking up a 4-square game.
One important point: the police did not see the chalk-spraying invention being _used_. So the inventor probably could not have been charged with the above law. But the only other anti-graffiti laws describe "aerosol spray paint cans," and the video of the arrest clearly shows the inventor explaining to the police that it uses chalk, not paint. Predictably, the New York Post gets that wrong, describing the invention as "a convoluted spray-paint mechanism": http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/29532.htm
Earlier this month, a family was threatened with a $300 fine for their 6-year-old girl's drawing with sidewalk chalk.
On her own front step.
It's legal of course. The police screwed up. Notice the final clause from the law as of 2004 ("unless... permission of the owner... has been obtained") and the similar clause from the 2005 law Natalie Shea was threatened with (only if "not consented to by the owner").
But a street artist was later arrested for drawing on the sidewalk with chalk (while being filmed by PBS about his artwork!). And I won't be surprised if sooner or later some kid literally chalking hopscotch onto the sidewalk or a school playground gets arrested.
That's the law, after all. We had to make sure nobody chalked anti-Bush slogans while the RNC was in town. And the law's the law.