Veteran fighting charges after chalking at Monument Circle

An Indianpolis man is fighting criminal charges after he used chalk to write political messages around Monument Circle.

Greg Lambert is a U.S. Army veteran and wanted to express his political views during a protest downtown last August. Like others at the demonstration, he used chalk to write political statements on the ground around the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. He said soon enough, police officers showed up and told protesters they were defacing government property and had to stop.

“A police officer came up and told us we couldn’t do that and we told him we could,” he recalled. “You’ve got the little girls out there drawing hopscotch out in the middle of the street. Is that illegal? I did nothing different.”

He said the officers eventually backed off, but took down names and told him they would submit a report to the Marion County Prosecutor to find out if any charges could be filed. Months went by and this February, Lambert said he was arrested at his home for Criminal Mischief. He spent the night in jail.

chalk“Yeah it was really disappointing… kinda scary,” he said.

Fox59 reached out to the prosecutor’s office, but we were not given a comment on the case. A spokeswoman wrote, “…it would be ethically inappropriate for a prosecutor to discuss the respective contentions of the parties.”

We turned to First Amendment expert and attorney Steven Badger. While there are limitations to the Freedom of Speech, Badger said, Lambert didn’t appear to be permanently damaging State property. He also said political speech gets the highest protection under U.S. and Indiana laws.

“Generally the government would have a reasonable reason to protect public property,” explained Badger. “But Constitutional tests require some common sense. I mean the fellow was writing in chalk? I mean that’s not doing any permanent damage.”

Although Lambert felt he was silenced at Monument Circle last year, he is hoping he will have a voice in court. His case will go to a jury trial in April.

“That’s something that our founding fathers fought for… to make sure that we had the ability to say what we needed to say and not be persecuted for it,” said Lambert.

46 comments

  • Ken S.

    What did he expect? Surely he's not surprised with what happened. If he's willing to express his opinion on concrete then he can do it in court also. What he did is NOT like the girls playing hop-scotch. gezzzz

    • Brooks

      What is the difference? Both are using chalk that washes away easily, causing no damage, on a sidewalk. They are doing the exact same action, only his chalk spells out words that the police did not like. That is abridgement on free speech. You do understand that if you say something the police don't agree with, they can't tell you to stop speaking, right? Do you know that they can't ask you to not hold a sign or wear clothing that they don't agree with? SAME THING.

    • KevininPHX

      Maybe, he expected the Police to have a clue about the constitution. It's painfully obvious, very few people have any idea about what is protected speech. Take you, for example…

    • gmac

      Your reading the wrong article.
      He shouldn't compare an adults actions to acids. that is a weak defense. Let this go the courts and money spent on other crimes is to much.

    • angel

      You must be looking at a different guy, or not know to many meth users, because he doesn't look like one.

  • Gen-Xer_1965

    My thoughts exactly on the hopscotch, kids for generations, at least thru Gen x (my generation), used to play outside and draw on the sidewalk with chalk and we never got in trouble…lol. Yes he's an adult,writing things on govt property, but at least it's removable with nature (rain, snow). Hopefully the guy gets a break. Ridiculous.

    • jazz

      I think that cop has control issues just because he mouthed off. This is so totally ridiculous but does not surprise me. Its the mentality that has been running our country lately. So so stupid.

  • Gat273

    “Yeah it was really disappointing… kinda scary,”

    The cost of civil disobedience can be high. This should have been expected and accepted by a "veteran."

    Rather than soldier up, this guy tries to cloak himself in what he believes is a cloak offered by tossing the word veteran around.

    Man up, go to court, make your statement there, refuse fines and community service and ask for time if you're really down for whatever cause that compels you to write on sidewalks.

    Modern social activists such as this guy, wall street sit in types etc suck. They pretend to take a stand but cry when the man comes for them.

  • Dave

    So when one of these 3D sidewalk artists comes town the Marion Country prosecutors office will be filing charges as well? I can see if it were paint of some fashion, or if he chiseled into the stone.

    It's chalk for Christ sake! So how much taxpayer money is going to be wasted on this case? I'm pretty sure enough has been used just from writing the report and sending to to eh prosecutors office for investigation.

    So, we've captured all the bad people in Indy that we can now targeted veterans writing in chalk on the sidewalk. Yeah .. I don't think so!

  • Bosco

    If you let this guy get away with it everyone else would want to do it too. 99% of people don't go around town writing on public property because we know it's wrong. Man up and take your punishment.

    • anonymous

      I bet you see no problem with the advertising you are bombarded with on a daily basis but seem to find fault in an individual expressing himself. sad excuse for a human.

      • Bosco

        No I don't, advertisements and this guys opinion have nothing to do with each other. He can express himself all he wants, just not by writing stuff all over Monument Circle. You seem to have a problem with me expressing my opinion? Hypocrite.

    • Angel

      Oh my god if you don't like his opinion go take a glass of water and dump it on said opinion, it was in freaking chalk, that is the fun of chalk it washes away with water. No harm done. Damn what is with you all overly butt hurt people. Bet your one of those people that don't want kids drawing on the sidewalk too.

    • mickey

      they let the illegals march all over our country without permits something very wrong with this country.but the politicians worry about hurting the illegals more then they do the veterans of this country.to march,yet they charge a veteran for writing the truth.

  • southsideguy

    thats our prosecutor for ya , go after this vet. months after this supposed crime happens , shouldnt we be spending more time on the real criminals..

    • Gat273

      " this vet"

      What does being a "vet" have to do with the price of tea in China? Are you saying "vets" get carte blanche do whatever they want to do?

      Why is that?

    • guest

      Yet, I bet if a group of teenage kids TP'd your house you'd be screaming about the prosecutors and police doing nothing for your justice. I love retard logic.

      • Jodi

        Your logic is SO much better. Let's see, rain removes chalk completely.. What does rain do to toilet paper? Makes it stick more. Yea… that's not at all the same. Now if he was going to complain about a bunch of kids writing on his sidewalk with chalk THAT would be an equal comparison.

  • anonymous

    not sure which is more disturbing. the fact that our corrupt police force is allowed to bully and attempt to silence first amendment voices or the fact that many of you complacent, brain-dead, automatons defend their actions. obvious witch hunt is obvious. 6 months after the fact? long after the rain had washed away the statements in chalk. "this town needs an enema"

    • Gat273

      "6 months after the fact"

      In other news, the folks that blew up a south side neighborhood won't see a trial until perhaps 2014.

      In other news Officer David Bisard still hasn't(thanks to good lawyers) seen a trial for 2 years.

      Should I keep going.

      6 months is nothing.

      Hopefully it means someone found this guy's file at the bottom of a huge completed pile and cleared their desk of work.

      • Wow

        In other news, Police: Newborn, 4-year-old found feet away from active meth lab…comments disabled on that page though

      • Gat273

        "comments disabled on that page though"

        Yeah F-59 seems to do that on any story that involves certain topics such as autism and some child abuse issues.

        Probably easier for them to close off the story rather than having the mods constantly scanning for comments that some may consider crazy.

  • RichieSlammer

    In other news, the Police still cannot locate the Thug that killed an innocent retired senior citizen that was setting in his home watching TV but they can hassle and seek to waste our money on shit like this, REALLY??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    • Gat273

      "Police still cannot "

      Please tell me that you understand the PO-LEASE and the prosecutor's office are two separate entities.

      Mr. Vet did his thang right in front of the man. How hard is that to solve?

  • Wow

    In other news, Police: Newborn, 4-year-old found feet away from active meth lab…comments disabled on that page though

  • Bob

    I bet none of you would even think about joining the military. I bet half of the people who said it's wrong are on welfare with no job. This nation has no pride anymore…it's chalk!!!!!!

    • Gat273

      "I bet none of you would even think about joining the military"

      Once again I must ask this, what does this dude's military service have to do with what he did? Do vets get a get out of jail free card?

      Why, because he "fought for our freedoms?" Wrong…unless he's a WWII vet he did not fight in any known war or battle in which our freedoms were at stake.

      Having said that and taking away the Vet worship syndrome, why should he not get in trouble for what he did? Further, as a former soldier we should be proud of, why isn't he just standing tall before the man, get his issues on books rather than some cryptic sidewalk doodle?

      • Angel

        Are you in the Military? Did you fight for your country? For our freedom or not, he protected this country and idiots like you. Doesn't matter how big the war is. If they wanted to use 'cryptic sidewalk doodle' who cares? It's not against the law. Even if he was not a Vet the opinion still stands. Just because people don't agree with what your protesting in this country they try to make it wrong. There was no reason to be put in jail for using your right to Freedom of Speech with some chalk. At least he didn't use spray paint and write obnoxious words on building like everyone else.

      • Gat273

        "Are you in the Military? Did you fight for your country?:"

        No, yes now bow down and kiss my foot you filthy vet worshiping wench.

        "he protected this country and idiots like you."

        Not sure what war this guy fought in but if he fought in:

        Viet Nam-He didn't protect anyone here from anything. We lost but we still have our freedoms. Last I checked our nation's capital is still Washington DC and not Ho Chi Min City

        Gulf War 1-Once again our freedoms weren't in jeopardy. Bush I following a UN mandate did kick Saddam out of Kuwait. Had they not be successful, none of our "freedoms" would be in jeopardy.

        Gulf War II-The reasons we went to war was @#$#. I don't think Saddam and Co flew those planes into the towers, I don't think he was about to gas the Brickyard. Therefore our freedoms were not in jeopardy and his protections weren't needed.

        Afghanistan-Can't tell if this is a win, loss or draw however the major reason of the war was eliminated.

        "At least he didn't use spray paint and write obnoxious words on building like everyone else."

        At least the taggers have enough sense not to do it in from of the police.

      • JamesGer45

        Completely agree with you Angel & Bob.

        @Gat273, No one ever once said they worshiped vets. So why you keep using that to bash everything, you sound like an uneducated idiot. I'm not sure why you are so interested in being as a** about everything. Obviously, no else is too sure either considering everyone agreed with the previous comments, and not yours.

        Not sure why you are discussing all of the Wars either, that was a waste of your time. The fact is that someone cared enough to try, whether it protected anyone or not. They were all important.

        Also, you are pretty ignorant for stating the "taggers have enough common sense not to do it in front of police." Well no sh*t, because it is illegal. Chalk is not.

        This is not about worshiping a vet, like you love to think. Him and whom ever else were there had a right to voice their opinion. I have family who are IMPD, and I still think this is a huge waste of their time.

        Good luck out there in the real world Gay273.

  • 4speechfreedom

    I agree with Dave, anon.., richieslammer and Bob. He didn't deface anything. Unbelievable they waited so long and then, rather than just write a ticket or summon him to court, throw him in jail! Don't care if he is a vet or just a reg citizen, doesn't at all seem right to me. It is bullying plain and simple. And a waste of our tax $ and the civil agents that they pay for. If it was something permanent he wrote with, I would prob feel different.

  • RaptorFortyFive

    Some of you insisting he defaced something, I am wondering if you read it was CHALK. Dum basses.

  • Gigantodog

    It’s chalk, not paint or anything that is permanent or is damaging. Good grief, I can’t imagine police wasting time and court money on THIS.

  • RichieSlammer

    To the noob that responded to my comment, your wording tells me you probably know the asshole they are looking for and are of the same character and skin color!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • jazz

    This is a common sense issue. Seriously….arrest him? Good grief this is exactly what is wrong with our country. Spending time and money on something other than what they should be .

  • Question

    This guy needs to get a life and find something to do besides write on the sidewalk like a six-year-old. Also while your at it stop drinking get a haircut and get some damn teeth………PWT!!!

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