Thursday, September 29, 2011
"Two Quartzsite chalk taggers arrested for criminal damage"
Story by Ruth Castillo, Reporter
"Early morning about 7:30, some of the employees from the town of Quartzsite arrived at Town Hall, they discovered some tagging that had been done across the courtyard and the area entering town hall," says Quartzsite Police Chief Jeff Gilbert.
Onsite cameras caught the action.
"In viewing the video surveillance recording, they identified two persons involved in the tagging the night before," says Chief Gilbert.
46-year-old Michael Roth and 58-year-old Dana Stadler of Quartzsite were arrested and booked into La Paz County Jail on 12 counts of criminal damage. Roth says he's fed up with Quartzsite Town government.
"After a long train of abuses, I finally decided that I'm going to exercise my First Amendment rights, which they hadn't allowed me over maybe years now," says Roth. "I've been arrested several times for just simply speaking uncomfortable truths of power and they won't let anybody discuss anything in town hall meetings."
Roth says he wanted to express himself.
"So what I did was took some chalk that I bought from Walmart and I simply put words that they didn't like on the concrete that's leading up to Town Hall and I got arrested for it," says Roth.
Although he admits to the tagging, Roth sees nothing criminal about it.
"There was no damage. I wrote it in chalk. They used a hose to clean it up. It took all of 15 seconds to wash this away and there was no damage," says Roth. "I though this was and still believe this is a perfectly legal way to voice your displeasure with an out of control local government."
However, Chief Gilbert calls it a hate crime.
"Most of it were hate-associated messages," says Chief Gilbert. "One writing said 'Death to the [Town] Council,' another said 'Hang them all.' There's one that says "Hang [Chief] Gilbert.' And most of them contained swastika symbols on the things that written."
Kswt News 13 questioned Roth's use of a symbolassociated with Nazi Germany and white supremicists. When asked what he meant to say when he scribed a swastika alongside the letters QPD, Roth said the Quartzsite Police are out of control.
"Well, I do obviously because I wrote it. I mean, what is more Nazi than to have police departments come out and attack political opponents, to try to silence political opponents, to jail political opponents?" said Roth.
Chief Gilbert questioned Roth's Freedom of speech defense.
"It's interesting that [Roth] didn't come in at 8 o'clock in the morning when Town Hall was open in daylight hours and both these individuals used the cover of darkness, you know, to come in when nobody was there when Town Hall was closed and do this tagging," said Gilbert.
OK, so I admit, it's not a Julian Beever masterpeice, but they're both just as temporary!