Mind your words in Defiance, Ohio, but feel free to draw your best smiley face on the pavement.
Writing in chalk on sidewalks and the street in that small town is illegal, but only if you’re writing names, words or advertisements. Drawings, like the kind kids do, are completely okay, at least according to a legal opinion from the city’s law director.
The debate over what can and cannot be written has sparked a lawsuit against the city in U.S. District Court in Toledo.
It started last October when the Occupy Defiance group decided to write messages and draw art on the sidewalks along the city’s annual Halloween parade. They thought they’d been given permission by the police chief to do so, but in the process of chalking, they were told by a patrolman they had to stop because it was illegal unless they had a permit.
According to the lawsuit, the patrolman’s police report said, “Everything that I could see and read was all directed towards our government and was political in nature. I was told that if it was political that they would have to stop.”