The Arizona Desert Lamp

An incomplete history of chalk at the UA

Posted in Campus by Evan Lisull on 25 September 2009

In light of yesterday’s chalk crackdown, here is a list of other chalk incidents at the UA over the past decade:

May 4, 1999:

An employee called police Thursday morning after discovering graffiti on a wall of a UA parking garage.

The Parking and Transportation Services employee told officers he found the vandalism on a north wall of the Park Garage, 1140 N. Park Ave., at 9:59 a.m.

The graffiti was written in chalk and said “Fear not thyne sheep for he will show us the way,” and “I can still hear you talking to me,” police reports stated.

The employee told police he would clean the vandalism from the wall.

October 30, 2001:

One of the methods used by [Parking & Transportation] enforcement officers to keep track of improperly parked vehicles is chalking tires, then returning later to see if the chalk is still there.

“If you’ve got somebody parked in a load zone, you can chalk the tires and come back,” [John] Prann said.

April 29, 2004 [PDF]:

To celebrate and honor the life of Joseph Johnson, a resident assistant killed in a motorcycle accident two weeks ago, about 120 people attended a memorial service yesterday at Graham-Greenlee Residence Hall.

“Your impact on others is more than you ever imagined,” read one of several messages written on the courtyard ground in chalk. The wall read, “In Loving Memory of Joe.”

September 7, 2006:

You’ve probably seen the signs. You may have seen the chalk graffiti on the sidewalks last week. This morning you’ll see the T-shirts. But you’re lucky if you know much more than that. Banners and flyers around campus proclaiming “I agree with Geoffrey” and “I agree with David” have esoterically haunted major thoroughfares on campus for the past week.

October 4, 2006:

White chalk graffiti was found on the Veterinary Sciences building, 1117 E. Lowell St., and the north side of the Highland tunnel, 1395 E. Speedway Blvd., reports stated.

The word “Repent,” was on the Veterinary Sciences building.

“Give war a chance,” was written on the Highland tunnel.

Police did not find any other matching graffiti and have no suspects.

October 11, 2007:

The [Poetry] center is throwing a housewarming festival Sunday. Starting at noon, guests can listen to readings by poets Alberto Rios, Robert Hass, Billy Collins and Steve Orlen.

The center will also host performances by Flam Chen, Odaiko Sonora and flamenco dancers, as well as local musicians.

Children attending may also partake in chalk art, face-painting booths, bookmaking and a children’s theater run by Stories that Soar.

November 25, 2007:

Two UA employees were caught drawing chalk graffiti on the walls of the Cherry Avenue Parking Garage, 1641 E. Enke Drive, at 10:26 p.m. Wednesday.An officer saw the two men at the top level of the garage drawing on the concrete divider that separates the recently constructed portion of the garage from the existing portion. When the men saw the officer approaching, they immediately stopped and began walking slowly away from the officer.

Both men denied having any identification on them. They said they worked concessions for the UA and had just been working at a basketball game.

The men said they were not doing any harm to the wall, and that all their graffiti would wash off in the rain. They denied being involved with any other graffiti incidents.

Some of the their graffiti read “ANK,” Alone,” “HERS,” “MEOW” and “Aerosol Ninja Krew,” according to reports.

February 9, 2009:

The man in charge told officers he never told his employees to enter the dorms or write on walls with chalk, which police believed the men had done. He told officers that they had used the chalk to make advertisements on the sidewalks around campus. He said he had given them permission to write on the sidewalks, but not to go into dorms or write on walls. The man also told officers there were 15 people on campus promoting the event. Police advised him to call all personnel and tell them to stay out of the UA dorms.

The man called all of the personnel to the dorm. When they arrived, one of the witnesses pointed out another man who she said had been in the dorm trespassing earlier. The man admitted to being in the dorm passing out flyers, but said that he did not write on any walls.

The chalk on walls and elevator doors was cleaned up. The on-duty Resident Assistant did not wish to press charges against the men for criminal damage. The four men were taken to the Pima County Jail where they were booked for criminal trespassing.

March 25, 2009:

A group of 10 UA and Pima Community College students claiming to belong to a group named “Anonymous” were found sketching, drawing and posting signs of protest against Scientology with multicolored chalk inside the North Fremont Avenue underpass at 5 a.m. March 13.

The students were advised they could be subject to arrest for criminal damage if the chalk could not be removed, but the students were able to erase the chalk drawings easily with water and no permanent damage found. The students left the area and the Dean of Students Office was notified.

June 23, 2009:

Graffiti was reported in the Second Street Garage, 1340 E. Second St., at 7:43 a.m. June 23.

An officer met a Parking and Transportation Services official, who showed him the graffiti that had apparently been done over the weekend.

On the main pillar of the third level was a large drawing of a broken heart with an inscription reading “Healing is not an option” and “Heartbreak in ’07.” Below it was an illegible signature.

Nine of the overhead girders nearby each had a single letter in light chalk on them, spelling out “I-N-V-I-S-I-B-L-E.”

Police have no suspects.

None of these cases have resulted in an arrest. Anecdotally, I can attest to use of chalk to advertise Mass being held on the Mall; also, the “$1,000 clean up” that was reverenced in several articles consisted mostly of using wet mops on the drawings. Commenters are urged to add their own chalk observations, including any early cases in which someone was arrested for chalk “vandalism.”

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3 Responses

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  1. Laura Donovan said, on 25 September 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Excellent re-cap, Evan!

  2. Bridget said, on 28 September 2009 at 9:23 am

    Well, I heard that there might be another arrest to post here. I think there is serious over reaction by the university. If they aren’t careful they’ll have a real problem. People are angry and infringing on freedom of speech isn’t going to help.

  3. […] some great reporting from Arizona Desert Lamp regarding past chalk incidents at UA — go see the list and note that no one was ever arrested in those events, which makes one wonder: Why Jacob Miller? […]


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