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Wednesday, April 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 54.0° F  Overcast
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WATCH OUT!

Peace activist fined $675 for chalking!

Miles Kristan with his peace sign, holding his citation.
Miles Kristan with his peace sign, holding his citation.
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Miles Kristan has already gotten an apology. But the city of Madison and its agents are still jerking him around.

On March 13, the 23-year local peace activist was given a $675 citation by Madison police for "Graffiti on Public Property," as prohibited by Madison General Ordinance 23.06(5). His offense: Drawing a peace sign announcing an upcoming protest in chalk on the 500 block of State Street.

It's a completely bogus ticket. In 1995 the Madison Common Council passed an ordinance amendment specifically allowing the use of nonpermanent chalk on sidewalks and streets. MGO 23.06(6) states: "This section does not prohibit any person from using water-soluble chalk to mark words or figures, otherwise lawful, upon city pavement and sidewalks."

Kristan told the cops who wrote the ticket he was not breaking any law. While "they wouldn't listen to me," they summoned a supervisor, Sgt. Linda Covert, who promised to look into it. Two days later, Covert called to apologize and to assure Kristan that the ticket would be dismissed.

"It was my fault, my mistake," says Covert. "It should have been dismissed by now."

It hasn't been. Kristan went to court on April 15, and entered a plea of not guilty. The matter was set over for review and a new court date set, on May 18. As of press time the case is still pending.

"They're making me jump though all these stupid little hoops," says Kristan. "It's ridiculous."

He's right.

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