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Trial date set for Belle Isle ‘chalk mom’

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -  The trial for a Richmond mother accused of letting her daughter draw on rocks with chalk is set for July 31. Susan Mortensen was in court Thursday  morning so the judge could set a trial date.

Richmond police ticketed Mortensen in March after her 4-year old daughter drew on a rock on Belle Isle with a piece of chalk.

After she was cited, some of her friends and people who heard about the case brought buckets of chalk with them and left messages on the sidewalk outside police headquarters on Grace Street.  Most said they couldn't believe police would give Mortensen a ticket for letting her daughter draw on one of the rocks on Belle Isle, which sits in the middle of the James River through Richmond.

Police said they have had problems with people vandalizing the rocks with paint and have had to crack down on people defacing property, but Mortensen said the officer was a little overzealous.  She also said the incident caused a lot of stress for her daughter.

"She's very scared of chalk for one”, said Mortensen. “The protest we had did help with that, made her feel a little better.  And she's very nervous around cops.”

Court records show Mortensen was convicted two years ago for destruction of property for painting on the rocks on Belle Isle.  But she’s adamant that conviction shouldn’t have entitled the officer to write her up for her daughter using chalk.

She said she planned to fight the ticket in court and at worst hoped the judge would dismiss the case in exchange for community service, perhaps cleaning up the park areas along the James River.

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