Chalk is Temporary, Murder is Forever
Chalk is Temporary; Murder is Forever

Lawsuit Filed Over Intimidation Arrests

Earlier today (Sept. 26, 2014), four people associated with Nevada Cop Block and the Sunset Activist Collective filed a civil rights lawsuit over arrests by the LVMPD in August of 2013 during anti-police brutality protests in which drawing on sidewalks with “sidewalk chalk” was labelled as graffiti, as well as a pattern of harassment by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, both before and after those arrests, designed to intimidate us into ending our advocacy for victims of police brutality in the Las Vegas area.

The federal lawsuit filed by attorneys Maggie McLetchie and Robert Langford on behalf of Ballentine, Catalino Dazo Jr., Gail Sacco, and I (Kelly W. Patterson), was reported this afternoon in the Las Vegas Review Journal which includes these details of the lawsuit (some of the links within the quoted content have been added by me):

“Four activists who express themselves with sidewalk chalk filed a civil rights lawsuit Friday against the Metropolitan Police Department.

According to the federal lawsuit, the department has engaged in ‘a policy and practice of deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of individuals engaging in peaceful protests

‘Plaintiffs have been improperly arrested, cited, and harassed for engaging in free speech,’ the complaint alleges…

According to the lawsuit, the Police Department has allowed its officers to harass, cite, arrest and search the plaintiffs ‘for peacefully writing in water-soluble chalk on a public sidewalk’ that Las Vegas police officers had instructed them to write on.

The document claims these actions violated the plaintiffs’ ‘constitutional rights to free speech, expression and assembly, rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and unlawful arrests, and substantive and procedural due process rights.’

Additional state tort claims in the lawsuit include false imprisonment, negligent training and supervision, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress

Las Vegas police began harassing protesters on May 1, 2013, according to the lawsuit, and three of the plaintiffs were cited during a protest at the department’s headquarters on June 8, 2013…

On that date, the lawsuit alleges, Sgt. Mike Wallace approached the three protesters and told them that writing with chalk on the sidewalk constituted graffiti. He then detained them on the sidewalk for about 45 minutes, according to the lawsuit…

During two demonstrations in July 2013, protesters used washable colored chalk to write critical statements of police on the sidewalks outside the department’s headquarters and in front of the Regional Justice Center.

Police said it cost city workers $1,500 to clean up the chalk using power washing equipment.

As a result of the July protests, Ballentine, Patterson and Dazo were charged with gross misdemeanor counts of placing graffiti on property and conspiring to commit a crime.

Police arrested Ballentine and Patterson on Aug. 10, 2013, while they were walking to the department’s headquarters to chalk, according to the lawsuit

Ballentine spent three days at the Clark County Detention Center, where he was denied his medications and suffered from anxiety, according to the lawsuit, and Patterson spent four days at the jail.

The charges were later dropped. District Attorney Steve Wolfson said new evidence showed that courthouse marshals had directed the protesters to chalk in a specific location outside the justice center.

‘There wasn’t expressed permission, but there was implied permission to use the chalk on the sidewalk outside the courthouse,’ Wolfson said.

But McLetchie said the district attorney fails to understand that “the Constitution forbids the government from requiring prior permission before you engage in First Amendment-protected activity.”

According to the lawsuit, the citations issued in June 2013 and the arrests made in August 2013 were designed ‘to chill future speech.'”

The full Review Journal article can be read here.

Further Reading

Still stands
Still stands

I’ve been advised by our lawyers not to comment in detail on the case while it is active, but you can read pretty much every article ever written about the case right here. (It actually progresses from the most recent stories to the latest. So, if you want to start at the beginning you have to backtrack to the last page.)

As I said, I won’t be doing any extended commentary on the case in this post. However, I will point out that I made Metro and Sheriff Gillespie a very reasonable offer (see the picture to the right) early on during the protests that I don’t believe they ever even considered accepting and still haven’t shown any real interest in to date.

Also, I think it’s amazing that the main cops involved in these ridiculous arrests are named “Mike Wallace, Chris Tucker, and Lt. Liberty.” I’m tempted to think they are just making up names at the LVMPD.


  1. Oh no, not a lawsuit!

  2. This is a perfect example of why we need a “loser pays” system in civil court. Frivolous lawsuits like this cost the public billions and there is no repercussions on the filers.

    1. Leave it to you to describe the LVMPD’s clear violations of First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments a “frivolous.” It’s no secret that’s exactly how you view the rights set fourth our countries founding document — as of little weight or importance.” You’re disdain for the foundation upon which this country was built has been well-noted.

      However, I can get on board with your whole “loser pays” idea. Lawsuits like this cost the public billions and there is no repercussions on the culpable officers. The law should require that all judgement, settlements and legal costs resulting from officer’s violating the rights of citizens be paid from the offending officer’s pension account.

      1. CC:
        Ah……you do realize that there “rights” WERENT violated right? Wait…no….clearly you don’t know that.

        Did they write what they wrote? Well….clearly they did. No first amendment rights violations there.
        Now…..if the city had to pay to have it washed off….that cost should be passed along to those that caused the cost to occur.?
        This isn’t about saying something. Or making a sign. This leaves something behind after you leave. If you want to avoid this….either don’t do it in the first place….or clean it up as you go.

        A few months ago there was a video posted here that was only up for maybe a few hours.
        It showed some Keeners “chalking” in a public park. Some of the local college kids reacted by walking over and washing off the chalk from the park sidewalk. The Keen Crew went crazy. They thought…as CBers do….that their rights were more important than everyone else’s. And that simply isn’t true.
        BTW….if you can’t follow that…..if it’s not wrong to chalk the sidewalk…it can’t be wrong for someone else to wash it off if they don’t agree with you.

        Oh….he telling thing about that video is that EVERY commenter roasted them and the video disappeared.

        1. Did they write what they wrote? Well….clearly they did. No first amendment rights violations there.

          Clearly you are unfamiliar with the first Amendment’s prohibition against the government “abridging the freedom of speech,” or the Clark County District Attorney admitting his prosecution was based, not on the fact the protesters used chalk to write on the public sidewalk (which is not only legal, but actually promoted by the local government), but they were being prosecuted simply on the basis of who they were and what they wrote.

          This is not a kid drawing with a piece of chalk on the sidewalk. These are adults who used chalk to draw profanity,” –Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson

          He has made it clear that he charged based on their age (a clear violation of the 14th Amendments guarantee of the equal protection) and the fact what they wrote contained a profanity, (specifically the word “füçk). However SCOTUS ruled in Cohen v. California that

          … the State may not, consistently with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, make the simple public display here involved of this single four-letter expletive [specifically the word “füçk] a criminal offense“

          Now, despite the police witnessing nothing that would indicate probable cause the group had violated the law, despite the groups actually having violated no city, state or federal laws police still seized them without a warrant to do so violating their Fourth Amendment right “…to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects” which resulted in their “ be[ing] deprived of …liberty…property, without due process of law” a clear violation of their Fifth Amendment rights as well.

          But you go ahead and show us how much you don’t care about the fact cops inas Vegas didn’t like what a was being said about them and arrested a group of law-abiding Americans, just because they could. Remind us how ignorant and arrogant members of law enforcement have become. I have always been able to count on you to become the best evidence in support of what’s wrong with cops.

  3. 4 days in jail over this doesn’t seem frivolous.

  4. I don’t think it will fly and I wish good luck.

  5. Another pathetic streetsheep copblocker trying to make money so he doesn’t have to work. The best way to resolve this is to stop chalking where you aren’t supposed to. You people act like little kids. Why don’t you check your ordinances before acting like a little kid and start chalking up everything.

    1. The best way to resolve this is to stop chalking where you aren’t supposed to… Why don’t you check your ordinances before..chalking up everything

      While the content of your post is spot on, you’re advice is directed at the wrong group. Chalking the public sidewalk is not a violation of our ordinances and both the LVMPD and the DA’s office admitted this and told the public the issue was not where they wrote their message, but rather the issue was both the content of the message and who wrote it.

      This is not a kid drawing with a piece of chalk on the sidewalk. These are adults who used chalk to draw profanity,” –Clark County Distric Attorney Steve Wolfson

      Had the LVMPD officers had consulted the local ordinance and had the intellectual capabilities to comprehend it they would have known that these guys werechalking where [they were] supposed to” this whole mess could have been avoided. Had the LVMPD officers and Wolfson been better educated on the laws they had all sworn to uphold, specifally. the First and Fourteenth Amendments, which The United States Supreme Court (have you heard of it) ruled in Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971) :

      … the State has no right to cleanse public debate to the point where it is grammatically palatable to the most squeamish among us. Yet no readily ascertainable general principle exists for stopping short of that result were we to affirm the judgment below. For, while the particular four-letter word being litigated here is perhaps more distasteful than most others of its genre, it is nevertheless often true that one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric…the State may not, consistently with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, make the simple public display here involved of this single four-letter expletive a criminal offense

      Perhaps the LVMPD should look into raising its educational standards to require its officers at least graduate high school so they stop handing out guns and badges to people unable to comprehend the laws we aske them to enforce. If these cops had stop behaving like little kid children who refuse to acknowldge their behavior we they wouldn’t have violated tbe 4th Amendment rights of these patriots excercising their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

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