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"Oregonian Doesn't Want Free Speech"

The Oregonian couldn't work fast enough to wipe away free speech in front of their HQ today. (article 1)
"Oregonian Doesn't Want Free Speech"
"Oregonian Doesn't Want Free Speech"
"Oregonian Doesn't Want Free Speech"
"Oregonian Doesn't Want Free Speech"
"Oregonian Doesn't Want Free Speech"
"Oregonian Doesn't Want Free Speech"
Two media activists went chalking today to promote the Alternative Media Convergence on August 4 at Memorial Coliseum. A natural stop seemed the front sidewalk of the Oregonian. Before they could even finish one full announcement of the event, an Oregonian staff member came out with bucket and washed the message away. The determined chalkers moved to a new spot, only to be foiled again. Most ironic was the wiping away of "Oregonian doesn't want free speech", scrawled there in response to the instant erasure of the announcement. With this action, the Oregonian has made it clear that it doesn't plan on relinquishing its grip on media and free speech, even though these belong to the People.

When questioned by Oregonian security, the activists produced a letter from Portland lawyer, Greg Kafoury, which read in part: "There is no city statute in Portland which outlaws the use of chalk on public sidewalks. The only related state statute is ORS 164.381, et seq. This section does not make applying chalk on a public sidewalk an offense, because the statute only covers an act which 'intentionally damages property.' ORS 164.383. Chalk is readily washable, and since it does not alter the sidewalk itself, there is no damage."

Cancel Your Subscription 01.Aug.2001 09:23

Lee White wlsherri@qwest.net

The best way to let The Oregonian know that you don't support censorship is to stop sending it money every month. I have cancelled my subscription in solidarity with the chalkers and encourage others who believe similarly to do the same. The e-mail addresses to use are:



chalk *is* grafitti in porltand (sorry) 01.Aug.2001 20:39

Xor Bitwise

i beg to differ with this letter that was brought out by the lawyer,
but portland city code very clearly defines "grafitti" to include
chalk, in <a href=" http://ordlink.com/codes/portland/_DATA/TITLE14/Chapter_14_140_GRAFFITI_NUISANCE_P/14_140_030_Definitions_.html">Chapter 14.140</a>:

"Graffiti: Any unauthorized markings of paint, ink, chalk, dye or
other similar substance which is visible from premises open to the
public, and that have been placed upon any real or personal property
such as buildings, fences, structures, or the unauthorized etching or
scratching of such described surfaces where the markings are visible
from premises open to the public, such as the public right-of-way or
other publicly owned property."
note that i personally DO NOT agree that it should be (or for that matter
much care for public punishment of graffiti!), thats for sure. i am only
relaying this info as i have been told it from the portland graffiti czar or
whatever he should be called. i wish it werent true. its pretty clear though in the city code. and yes, graffiti (incl chalk) is illegal on property even
when it is "public" (ha), too. so the fact that sidewalks may or may not
be "public" dont matter -- in the eyes of the powers-that-be its just

city code url addendum 01.Aug.2001 20:42

Xor Bitwise

sorry! apparently this doesnt accept HTML... maybe it should
say that! <grin> here is the url the right way:


Graffiti 02.Aug.2001 07:17

Lee White wlsherri@qwest.net

You're correct about the definition of graffiti, Xor, but the code in question does not outlaw the marking of the sidewalk with chalk. It DOES provide city officials with the authority to remove (abate) such markings, but provides for no penalties for chalkers. I imagine there's some law -- perhaps the Oregon statute cited in the original post or maybe another section of the city code -- that makes defacing public or private property with graffiti a crime, but not the one which includes the graffiti definition you cite.

chalk does not deface public property 02.Aug.2001 15:10


we have been chalking for the nader event, and our lawyer, Greg Kafoury recently got the opinions of the multnomah county dist. atty who has said (paraphrase) since chalk is easily wiped off sufaces with water, it does not permenantly deface public property. we have had chalk brigades all over portland and we carry a letter stating what we are doing is legal. in over ten instances, cops and business owners have tried to cite and or arrest us, and IT HAS NEVER HAPPENED. the oregonian is full of shit, as are any law that states otherwise.

chalking (further off topic) 03.Aug.2001 15:52

Xor Bitwise

this is an interesting development. i was in an ongoing
dialogue with Hugh McDowell, the city graffiti head, and he stated (though not in any kinda legally final way) that he believed that any *unauthorized* marking of property, including with chalk, was graffiti. his thoughts were that *unless you had owner permission* it was a violation.

the dialogue was sparked because, of course, i think this is really lame in the case of chalk on "public" property (there is much question as to how "public" many sidewalks are). certainly on city-owned property, however, there is little doubt it is not owned by a private individual.

so my question is, do you think you could make copies of this letter available? it would be of great service to use, and probably even better service to somehow try to clear this mess up in the legal books (eventually). i know of many times during protests and whatnot where protesters were arrested for chalking on streets or in pioneer square. clearing this up (or arming ourselves against it with knowledge) would be a good step forward.