ACLU to rep. woman charged in chalk art protest

ACLU to rep. woman charged in chalk art protest

DENVER – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Colorado will represent in court the woman charged earlier this month for a sidewalk chalk protest regarding the Trump administration’s family separation policy outside of the Castle Rock office of U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo.

Shauna Johnson was charged with criminal tampering, a class 2 misdemeanor, after she on June 6 scrawled “Stop putting kids in cages Ken Buck, love Jesus” as well as a picture of a cross on the pavement in front of Buck’s office in Castle Rock. The chalk incident came after she went to the office in hopes of talking to staffers about the separation policy.

The building’s management called the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, after which deputies issued Johnson the misdemeanor. The building is located on private property and property owners said they were concerned that she would return.

Johnson, a mother of two, told Denver7 earlier this month she was “scared” because class 2 misdemeanors carry penalties of between 3 and 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 upon conviction. She told Denver7 she felt her free speech rights were being violated and that she was being bullied.

Attorney Adam Frank, of Frank & Salahuddin LLC, who is one of the attorneys working with the ACLU of Colorado on the case, said they would be asking the district attorney’s office to dismiss the case.

“There is not a single reported case in the history of Colorado where a person has been prosecuted for criminal tampering based on writing a message or drawing in chalk,” said Frank. “Clearly, this criminal charge is a response to the content of her message, not the conduct itself.”

Buck’s office sent Denver7 a statement earlier this month about the incident: “Congressman Buck appreciates civic engagement and encourages his constituents to voice their opinions respectfully.”

Johnson’s first court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 19 in Douglas County Court.

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