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Demonstrator ordered to pay for chalking sidewalk

March 4, 2021 GMT

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — An Ashland woman was ordered to pay almost $500 for her role in a downtown Medford demonstration that involved temporary sidewalk chalk.

A Jackson County judge sided with a Medford Municipal Court ruling last week, ruling that $493.04 was a reasonable amount for Teresa Safay to pay for cleaning up spray chalk on the sidewalk outside former Congressman Greg Walden’s office in 2019, The Mail Tribune reported.

Safay was among demonstrators who gathered outside Walden’s office and wrote messages in chalk urging the him to vote to impeach then-President Donald Trump, according to a ruling filed Feb. 26 in Jackson County Circuit Court.

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Safay was later cited for “defacing streets or sidewalks” by purchasing spray sidewalk chalk and distributing it to other demonstrators during the demonstration.

Safay’s lawyer, Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center in Eugene, sought to have the citation dismissed, arguing Safay specifically used a sidewalk chalk designed to be temporary and argued the code was “intended to apply to permanent or semi-permanent marks.”

In December, Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia found Safay guilty of the code violation. In his ruling, Mejia said the spray container had the message, “Durable spray lasts up to seven days” and found it was semi-permanent enough to come under the prohibition of the code.

A person spent seven hours at $50 per hour to clean up about three car lengths of sidewalk chalk, according to court filings.

Safay’s lawyer then disputed the $493.04 restitution amount for the cleanup saying the building overpaid the contractor, and that the contractor didn’t follow instructions on the cleaning product.

In February, Mejia ruled that the $493.04 restitution amount was reasonable, saying the contractor’s job “was made much more difficult by the fact that he did not know what substance had been sprayed on the sidewalk.”

Court records showed Wednesday that Safay had paid all fines and fees in the case.