67-Year-Old Writer Handcuffed and Jailed Over Chalk Graffiti; ‘Petty’ Arrest Amidst a Plague

Jill Nelson.

By Michael McDowell

In the early afternoon on April 16th, Jill Nelson, a 67-year-old writer, left her apartment on Riverside Drive to run a few essential errands. Bundled up in a green down jacket, turtleneck sweater, jeans, and sneakers, she planned a quick trip to the drug store and supermarket, stuffing a hat, credit card, and some cash into her purse.

On Broadway and 162nd Street, she passed a boarded-up storefront, and wrote “Trump = Plague” in pink chalk.

Seconds later, she was in handcuffs, she told us.

“Before I could step back and see my handiwork, two police SUVs roared up on either side of me, and blocked me in,” Nelson told the Rag. “Four officers jumped out: ‘What are you doing? Why are you doing that? Do you own this building? Do you have a weapon?’

“They roughly cuffed me, took my purse, and shoved me into the back of an SUV. I was taken to the 33rd Precinct and put in a cell at about 1 p.m. I was never read my rights. They took mug shots, they fingerprinted me, I was searched by a female officer, and they itemized my belongings,” she recounted.

“I thought, are you kidding me? You’re arresting me for writing graffiti in chalk? Are you serious? Now I have a desk appearance ticket for August 14,” she said. “It’s unbelievable. Something so petty! It’s just so stupid and so enraging and a total waste of resources.”

Nelson has been charged with graffiti, a misdemeanor, and was held at the 33rd Precinct for more than five hours.

“They didn’t let me call my husband until 3 p.m., after I’d already been there for a couple hours,” she said. “This is in the midst of coronavirus. I did demand a mask and they gave me one, but they weren’t going to let me out because I didn’t have a picture ID,” Nelson continued. For a short trip to run a few errands, Nelson had left it behind at her apartment.

During a phone call that Nelson claims was cut short by an NYPD officer, she was unable to communicate her whereabouts to her husband, Flores A. Forbes, an associate vice president at Columbia University. Although Nelson says she was told that a squad car would be sent to her building to meet her husband, who had located her ID, Forbes waited for a car that never arrived.

“They began saying that they were going to take me downtown, take me to the Tombs,” Nelson said, referring to the Manhattan Detention Complex. “It was almost gleeful, I felt. This is going to be your punishment for being an uppity human being. An uppity female. And the guy is like yeah, you probably won’t get out of there until tomorrow morning.”

Nelson paused.

“I’ve known people who went to the Tombs, and they disappear for days.”

Eventually, Forbes arrived, having given up on the squad car and determined his wife was almost certainly at the 33rd Precinct.

“They had a plastic evidence bag and I saw my license, from my cell,” Nelson said.

When she asked if her husband was there, Nelson says she was told that he had left, and that she couldn’t have seen him anyway.

It wasn’t until 6:37 p.m. that Nelson was able to leave the precinct, and not without a stern reminder as to her impending day in court, she said.

“When I left, the desk sergeant, who was of African-American descent, said, you better show up, because if you don’t we’re going to come to your house and arrest you.”

On her way home, Nelson noticed that “Trump = Plague” had already been smudged away.

The boards that Jill Nelson had written on in chalk. Photo via Nelson.

Reached by phone, the NYPD told the Rag that the complaint was “sealed.”

In a subsequent email, an NYPD spokeswoman wrote that “there is nothing on file with the information you provided,” despite being presented with the information listed on the desk appearance ticket—the department’s own record—a copy of which Nelson provided.

Although New York City has recorded a precipitous drop in crime during the coronavirus pandemic, the NYPD has come under increasing scrutiny following videos depicting aggressive enforcement of social distancing guidelines. Photos shared on social media of the NYPD handing out masks to West Village sunbathers present a marked contrast to aggressive arrests of New Yorkers like Donni Wright, who was hospitalized following an encounter with an NYPD officer who had previously been named in seven lawsuits.

“It’s all part of a continuum, I feel. With those guys who got beat up, at least they’re alive. But the level of disrespect, of harassment, of abuse, it builds. My experience was one level, and theirs was another, but it’s part of the same piece of cloth,” Nelson said. “There’s moments in life where you realize, this is how most people are treated most of the time. It really was an experience of feeling like, this is how they treat everyday people. Who don’t have backup. Who don’t have husbands.”

Nelson, who spent much of her life on the Upper West Side, had never previously been arrested, and the experience has kept her up at night.

“I find that I wake up earlier, and I wake up during the night. I feel vulnerable, and I’ve had to push myself to not feel that way—to go on about my business with a sense of rigor and the right to do so,” she said.

She’s ready for an explanation, and an apology.

“After the first few days, I woke up one day and I was really angry. I thought, this shit is ridiculous. I want an explanation, I want an apology, and I want this desk appearance dismissed. I want any record I might have expunged, and I want to know what the police precinct is going to do to have better training for its officers.”

That her experience occurred during the coronavirus pandemic is all the more frustrating.

“When I was walking to the drug store that day, I saw families picking up food at a school. Don’t the police have anything better to do in this community? Like handing out masks?”

Nelson sighed.

“One of the cops said, ‘do you do this often?’

And I said, ‘yeah, graffiti grandma.’”

She shrugged.

“In the cosmic essence of horrors, this is minor, but these little things are part of a structure of taking people’s rights away, and making us acquiesce to whatever the powers that be tell us. I think it’s all a piece, a small part, it has a chilling effect, and I think that’s just what it’s supposed to do.”

NEWS | 255 comments | permalink
    1. Natali says:

      I was ready to defend her based on the headline but her actions were just dumb. It’s one thing if you use sodewalk chalk to draw on the sidewalk, especially if it’s a positive message, but drawing on a building you don’t own is like drawing on a wall. I thought we were all taught not to do that when we were five.

      Here’s the explanation she’s looking for: You do the crime, you do the time. Make the desk appearance and explain why you behaved like a child.

      • Reginald Smith says:

        White people gonna white people and defend over-policing of black and brown bodies after a week of watching fat white dudes stroll into state capitol buildings with guns and claim their rights to guns and free speech while intimidating and terrorizing the state reps who showed up to vote. This is why the United States is falling apart at the seams – there’s a certain group of white people who will cling to their sense of right and wrong or innocent and harmless depending on the skin color of the perpetrator. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?

        • ZoomZ says:

          Mr. Smith,
          I guess in your world everything is black or white. What a waste of your time.
          There are plenty of black dudes with guns who do not vote the straight democrat line.
          And there are plenty of fat white dudes with guns who do vote democrat.
          if you really are the way you write your thoughts, you should take a deep breath and look at the world in a brighter way. We have one short trip. Enjoy it while we’re still here.

          • Queen says:

            Spoken by an extremely privileged, comfortable person. We should just accept our hell on Earth, since Heaven last always. NOPE.

          • will says:

            Name one. “There are plenty of black dudes with guns who do not vote the straight democrat line.
            And there are plenty of fat white dudes with guns who do vote democrat.”

        • Natali says:

          You’re certainly assuming a lot. How do you know if I’m white or not?!

        • Sheri says:

          Thank you. I’m a white person who was totally offended by that comment and the example you used couldn’t have been better.

        • Irene Siegel says:

          Mr Smith, as a white lady allow me to just say, you nailed it: white people gonna white. And ignorant people -whatever their color — also gonna white sometimes. People like Natali and ZoomZ and Sheri and UWSHebrew need some serious education.
          (We have our work cut out for us.)

          • Rachel Chapman says:

            Amen! And thank for modeling how to use your white privilege in support of people of color by refusing to condone, bond around or excuse the bullshit from other people raised to think they are white, honorary whites or people who sadly over-identify with white aggression, fragility and control we are all steeped in!👌🏾🙏🏾✊🏾

        • Tony says:

          Well said!

        • Danalexa Jimenez says:

          Amen & thank you

      • Ty says:

        Natali, the building. was boarded up, as the photo in the article clearly shows. And there is no excuse for not reading her her rights.

        • Boris says:

          You don’t know that she wasn’t read her rights. Just because she said that doesn’t make it true.

          • Tamm E Hunt says:

            Jill Nelson is writer with years of respect. Google her. She’s not your adverage numb skull. Be careful before you malign some one you do not know.

        • A Harlem Mom says:

          You’ve been watching too much old TV.

          No one who is arrested or cited for breaking this sort of low-level infraction is read their rights. Ever.
          Disorderly conduct is not a significant charge, is not punishable by significant jail time, and it doesn’t warrant having one’s Miranda rights read.

          You are read your rights when you are arrested for a crime for which the penalty may be a significant infringement on your right to liberty, i.e. time in jail.

      • eastvanhalen says:

        the bootlicker has entered the chat

      • Lisa says:

        Natali? Is your real name KAREN???

      • Christy says:

        Chalk washes off when it rains. It’s hardly graffiti more like free speech

      • Ed R. says:

        “I was ready to defend her based on the headline”

        Sure you were. Uh huh.

      • Sharaine Ely says:

        You are right. It is impossible to know definitively 100% your race, and I do not care about the color of your skin. The point is that you think “white” and that is deplorable. Your views appear to ignore any of the principles of civil disobedience and you appear to have no concept of proportionality! Sad.

        • James Kushner says:

          Now thinking white is deplorable. Yes, it’s a proven fact. I think, therefor I am. I’m white, therefor I think white. I’m black, therefor I think black. I think anyone one who thinks this, doesn’t think at all.

      • Mike C. says:

        It’s was on an empty building for sale surrounded by an ugly green wooden fence. The kind that gets plastered with election flyers, posters, advertising, etc. They detained a 67 year old woman at high risk from Corona Virus for 5 hours at a high risk location when they clearly could have given her either a warning or summons or just overlooked it. Outrageous use of the police, who were probably either looking to get off the street to kill some time, or have been told to bust people for that as part of the latest version of the “broken windows” policy. She was also likely the wrong color.

      • Leah says:

        if she had been white, this never would have happened. This is a prime example ofthe systemic racism that exists in the NYPD – this is ridiculous – it was CHALK!

        • MJMiller says:

          I don’t care who you are on this thread… we can all agree that a 67yr old White woman would NOT have been taken to jail for this ridiculous infraction with a friggin piece of chalk… period! I love all the indignant outrage of these comments, put forth by people who would have never attempted to say a word around this issue had the photo not been someone with melanin. It may be the UWS… but no less steeped in the same old systemic racist crap that persists. It’s also amazing to me that so many people who have a disdain for POC move to neighborhoods filled with POC, then actively disparage and/or try to get rid of them as soon as they move in. STOP already… we see you!

      • So you think she shouldn’t have written on the wall of a boarded up building. That is hardly the worst form of just vandalism. Seriously. Does she deserve to be arrested for it, especially during a pandemic, not allowed to call her husband, then she’s told a police car will pick up her husband and it never does, and then she’s not allowed to leave with her husband when he finally gets to the precinct? If she had been white, she would not have been treated this way. There is no doubt in my mind, and I am a white person.

      • Gail says:

        She wrote two words on a boarded-up building. Yes, of course she didn’t own the building but it wasn’t written directly on the building. I’ve seen graffiti written on boarded up buildings in the past, so did the police have nothing better to do than arrest Ms. Nelson?

      • Amabella says:

        “You do the crime, you do the time.”

        Yes, unless, of course, your name is Michael Flynn, Bridget Anne Kelly or Bill Baroni. Policing and criminal justice are always carried out evenly, right?

      • Tamm E Hunt says:

        She didn’t write on a building. Look at the photograph that shows the surface she wrote on. Duh!

      • Nick Lento says:

        It’s likely that these cops were bored racists who saw an opportunity to harass and humiliate an African American woman. On top of all that, she was expressing a viewpoint that offended them.

        Let’s face it, Trumpism Is a kind of malignant legally toxic virus that has infected out body politic.

        If this had been a rural road in the woods of Georgia and she had used chalk to write those words on the wooden frame support if a billboard, the local bullyboy racist pig cops would have been far rougher and might have beaten or even killed her if she “resisted”.

        This “bust” was clearly a malicious waste of police time and resources in service to malevolent malignant and sadistically cruel misconduct.

      • jay says:

        What crime? And how does what she did justify her treatment? What would have happened had she not had a husband in an important position? THINK!

      • willfulknowledge says:

        As one who voted for trump and will again, the cops overreacted. I fully support her right to weigh in against trump, misdemeanor or not, and and ignorant equation notwithstanding.

    2. UWSHebrew says:

      She defaced property and slandered the current President, and what she wrote is inflammatory during a crisis that could lead to worse things by people who see it. Let her vent on social media, which I’m sure she has. Write an Op-Ed in the NYT. But don’t engage in a criminal act. I have zero sympathy for her. I would feel the exact same way no matter who was President, and no matter what gender or race was doing the graffiti. Very immature during this most serious time.

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        TO UWSHebrew:

        Sir, at long last, have you no sense of decency? Have you no sense of perspective or proportion?

        • ZoomZ says:

          Bruce old chap,
          Have you no sense of avoiding writing what you just did?
          This is not 1954 and not the Un American Activity hearings.
          Leave it to Mr. Biden to steal lines.
          You are too smart and educated to do the same.
          Cheers, stay safe, sane & creative.

          • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

            ZoomZ “old chap”:

            of course i recognize who i was paraphrasing.

            and anyone who thinks Ms. Nelson “got what she deserved”, as you state in a post below, indeed has no sense of decency.

            And if you think that, you might be educated… but you are not very smart.

          • Ish Kabibble says:

            ZoomZ are you serious? Does the word hypocrite mean anything to you?

          • Bill Wolfe says:

            You’re right, this isn’t 1950’s HUAC. It’s actually FAR WORSE.

            These cops risked a death sentence for an absurdly minor property “crime” (and one that involved political speech, no less).

            That is incredibly poor police judgment worthy of disciplinary hearings.

            • Irene Siegel says:

              Exactly. They should face grave consequences for this outrageous behavior.

        • UWSHebrew says:

          The other response was correct, what she did is not slander, but it is inflammatory and reckless during this crisis where passions are high. You’re angry, fine, protest in a legal, responsible manner. She is pompous and immature.

          • Irene says:

            Pompous and immature? I think you’re confusing Ms Nelson with yourself. I have never heard anything so idiotic as your responses here. I’m ashamed to be associated with the same religion.

          • the only person in this whole pandemic crisis who is “pompous and immature” is the president. It’s certainly not Jill Nelson, who is an award-winning novelist and journalist.

            • UWSHebrew says:

              being an award winning journalist and pompous and immature is not mutually exclusive.

      • Ted says:

        Slander is an untrue statement about a person made orally. Ms. Nelson’s behavior was not slander. The statement she wrote, Trump=Plague is political speech and certainly president’s of all parties have had to endure far worse. While graffiti is illegal and her actions may not have been wise, the NYPD did not act in a manner that will win them any community relations points. Your statement that her choice of words might inspire others towards more serious criminal behavior is pure hyperbole. Carrying an AR-15 into a government building, legal or not, is far more likely to incite violence. It must be difficult to have conservative political views on the UWS but don’t undermine your position even more by making statements that are demonstrably untrue or exaggerated.

      • Steve Downey says:

        I’ve been meaning to ask, why do you use your faith or ethnic group in your username? I’m curious as it seems weird. Who are you? Why don’t you use your name?

        • UWSHebrew says:

          Simple: to show that even though I am Jewish and live on the Upper West Side, that unlike the majority of my outspoken Jewish neighbors, I am not a Democrat, a liberal, a progressive, a communist, a socialist, someone who mocks the people in “flyover states”, someone who excuses people who belong to certain ethnic groups for some in their community who practice violent criminal behavior, and someone who loves this country, not demeans it and looks to place fault and blame it constantly. I am in the minority but I am here, and you would be surprised how secretly, without even letting their family members know, there are other Jews in the UWS who think more like me and less like, for lack of a better example (and sincerely, no disrespect to him), the WSR commenter Bruce E. Bernstein.

          • I registered to tell UWS Guy to Eat it says:

            In other words, you have no experience outside of NY but you think you can tell people when free speech ends.

            • UWSHebrew says:

              The law is crystal clear; you cannot express free speech via defacing private property, which is a criminal act.

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            Out of nowhere, UWSHebrew personally attacks me. For the record, I’ve never made fun of anyone in “flyover country”, nor would i. And UWSHebrew seems to think that right wingers have some sort of monopoly on patriotism. Trump, in fact, mocks this country every day. Do we recall his “birtherism”? How unpatriotic was that?

            But more importantly, UWSHebrew finally shows why he uses that name. It is to promote racism and, in fact, anti-semitism. The racism might be obvious (but nevertheless I’ll point it out). The anti-semitism is there, too, but it might be a little harder to see.

            Overt Racism: here is what UWSHebrew said:

            “[I use that name] to show that even though I am Jewish and live on the Upper West Side, that unlike the majority of my outspoken Jewish neighbors, I am not… , someone who excuses people who belong to certain ethnic groups for some in their community who practice violent criminal behavior…”

            Is there any doubt which “ethnic groups” he is referring to? He has made it clear so many time before, and made it clear on this thread: Blacks and Hispanics.

            So we should not “excuse” all Blacks because “some in their community” have committed violent crimes? This is collective guilt. What would we say if someone came on this site and blamed all Jews for Bernie Madoff? or all Irish for the old Westie gang? Really, this is a racist, racialist, and fascistic way of thinking.

            Now for the anti-semitism:

            UWSHebrew says:

            “[I use that name] to show that even though I am Jewish and live on the Upper West Side, that unlike the majority of my outspoken Jewish neighbors, I am not a Democrat, a liberal, a progressive, a communist, a socialist…”

            Think about what he is doing here. There are many tens of thousands of liberals of all faiths, and of no faith, on the Upper West Side. Sadly, there are not as many socialists as there used to be, but there are probably still many thousands. UWSHebrew disagrees with liberals and disagrees with socialists. That is his right. And he wishes to spend his time on WSR railing about liberals and socialists. Once again, he has the right to do this.

            So why isn’t his name UWSConservative, or UWSRedbaiter? UWSLibertarian?

            It is because he singles out and targets JEWS who are liberals and socialists. This is the old “Jewish Bolshevism” myth. And it is and always has been a mainstay of anti-semitism.

            He probably singles me out because Bernstein is an obvious Jewish name, though I have never discussed my faith or lack of such, nor how i identify.

            Well, I’m glad UWSHebrew “came out of the closet” on this issue. And I’m glad he did it on this thread, which is really all about racism.

            • UWSHebrew says:

              1) Where did I attack you? I wrote “(and sincerely, no disrespect to him), the WSR commenter Bruce E. Bernstein.”
              2) Too many people in NYC who espouse Socialist and Communist ideas are Jews. It makes me sick, yes, as a patriotic American of the Jewish faith and race; as America is supposed to be the antithesis of Communism. Every time I see someone wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt I want to vomit. All the millenials who wave the Soviet flag in Union Square on May 4th are a fifth column.
              3) Too many in the Democratic party have welcomed and even promoted those who espouse Socialist and Anti-Semitic rantings (in the guise of Anti-Israel rantings), and that makes me sick.
              I will not be silenced. I will not be shamed, by you or anyone else on WSR who is “horrified” by my statements.

            • Isabella says:

              Bruce Bernstein-I couldn’t agree more! Well said. There are so many other sites to rail on-for instance Breitbart News where UWSHebrew, an offensive name, would find lots of like-minded people. Well, they say it’s a free country. His views are the antithesis of everything the Upper West Side has stood for for generations.

      • Olga says:

        Our president said so many inflammatory things, during a crisis that could lead to worse things by people who hear it. Very immature during this most serious time. I have to assume you have zero sympathy for the president as well UWSHebrew.

      • Claire says:

        This is NOT a criminal act. Or rather, it is no more so than jaywalking.
        The word “crime” is usually reserved for felonies, not misdemeanors.
        This was a gross overreaction by law enforcement. A warning, even a ticket, would have been sufficient. NOT cuffing, booking, detaining for five hours, and threatening to do more.
        Unless you think every jaywalker should be treated like that, in which case you want to live in a Soviet-style police state.

      • Danalexa Jimenez says:

        I hope you outraged about Trump being ignorant of infectious disease transmission to the detriment of the public’s health as you are about easily-removed graffiti.

        True writing on a wall is technically not ok; however, there were other options. For example, they could have driven her to her home so she could get her ID & simply written a ticket. What took place was a flagrant abuse of police powers to put someone in his/her place. End of story.

    3. Isabella says:

      Unbelievable! My advice. Get a good lawyer.

    4. Dorothy M. Zellner says:

      This is absolutely outrageous! I have been to Central Park several times and seen some who are not observing social distancing. Where were the police, I wondered. Now I know! Uptown arresting middle-aged African American women who are writing down in chalk what almost every New Yorker thinks! You bet she needs an apology and the NYPD needs to say what in the world they are doing.

    5. D-Rex says:

      This is outrageous behavior by the police. Disturbing. It was chalk for crap sake!

      (But do always carry official photo ID whenever leaving your home. It can be the difference between receiving a summons, or being held, even if the charge is ludicrous)

      • Jim Bob McCracker says:

        Why is there not a digital verion of NY State ID, that can be carried on one’s phone?

        I often do not take a wallet when I leave home, but always have a smartwatch or smartphone, on which could reside a digital ID.

        I’m not much for graffiti, but I tend to think that this person was treated with gross disproportionality in comparison to the anti-social cyclists who daily endanger pedestrians’ lives with reckless behavior; or to the people who allow 150-lb pit bulls to run off-leash in the park, defecating hither and yon.

        This stinks of highly seclective enforcement.

        I am glad that this lady wasn’t a jogger in Georgia though, or things could’ve really gotten out of hand.

        • Denton says:

          You can use LastPass or a similar app to carry encrypted copies of all your ID on your phone. Will the police accept them? Probably depends on the cop, why they stopped you, and who knows what else. But that’s what I do.

    6. Blue Lives Matter says:

      How do I get 5min of my life back. What a waste! I laugh at Karen’s (look it up) like you wasting tax dollars for not abiding by the law…”Something so petty! It’s just so stupid and so enraging and a total waste of resources.” Taking peoples rights away? You have the right to free speech, you do not have the right to deface property. This is what is wrong with society, thinking you have the right to do whatever you want…blame it on the police..until you’re really in trouble and call on them for help. You should apologize to the police and think how you can contribute to society rather than break it down.

      • A says:

        The only people I know who have a positive impression of the police are people who literally never interact with them. The NYPD deserves every disrespect it gets.

      • mkmuws says:

        Right back at ya. Way to read half the story. And you misspelled Black. It’s b l a c k not b l u e. Revealed.

    7. I am just horrified to hear that NYPD would arrest someone for writing something in chalk. Chalk?! I don’t think a white person would ever get arrested for that. And they endanger her life by taking her into custody and holding her, possibly exposing her to people with Covid. This is utterly infuriating.

    8. Anya Schiffrin says:

      This is really shocking behavior on the part of the police. They should not waste their time prosecuting people for writing with chalk in tiny letters on plywood. No one deserves this treatment but I also want to note that Jill Nelson is a fantastic writer, an Upper West Side luminary and her memoir about the Washington Post in on my syllabus. She is a national treasure.

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        thanks for pointing out who Jill Nelson is, Anya. She is indeed a superb writer.

        But Ms. Nelson makes a really important point: just imagine how the Black and Brown young people, who aren’t famous writers, who don’t have husbands with powerful positions at Columbia, get treated. Just imagine.

        • Sherman says:

          Hi Bruce

          You boast that Jill Nelson is “indeed a superb writer”.

          Have you ever even heard of this woman before? Have you read any of her stuff?

          I confess that I’ve never heard of her before. I have no doubt that you’ve never heard of her either.

          But at least I’m not touting familiarity of her work as proof that I’m some kind of UWS liberal intellectual.

          Ms Nelson might very well be a “superb writer” but I’m not familiar with her work so I’m not qualified to render an opinion.

          And neither are you.


          • Anya Schiffrin says:

            Are you a good friend with Bruce E. Bernstein? Do you know what he has read? I ask because Jill Nelson is very well known on the UWS and to New Yorkers of a certain generation. She was a regular contributor to the Village Voice (I think was on staff) and involved with the National Association of Black Journalists. Her brother is a famous documentary film maker. So, yes, many people do know her work. Her dad was a dentist on the UWS. Again, no one should be held for five hours for writing tiny letters in chalk on a piece of plywood. But, yes, Jill Nelson has authored many books, taught and is well know to many on the UWS.

            • Boris says:

              All those accolades put a greater burden on her to not influence younger generations who will think it’s ok to deface property not belonging to them. There are numerous studies done that chronicle the effect graffiti has on communities. None of it is positive. It took years for the City to reverse the tide of urban blight of which graffiti was a major component. Her actions might seem petty but they send out signals to others who might it many steps further. There are people in Wash Hts who said that this was not an isolated incident; this have been numerous other incidents of the same behavior. So let’s stop crying for Ms. Nelson.

          • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

            I used to read Jill Nelson all the time in the VIllage Voice. Sherman seems to think he knows a lot about my life. He doesn’t.

      • ZoomZ says:

        Fantastic writer she is – indeed!
        And this time around, her not so fantastic writing got her into the trouble she created for herself and it is well deserved.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        What’s shocking is you and others excusing a person who should know better than to engage in a criminal act and then complain that she was arrested for said criminal act. Without the NYPD announcing their presence to those who wish to commit violent crimes, this city would be doomed. We all know how sometimes the smallest thing can escalate to something beyond control. If this virus crisis happened under Obama and a 67 year old white woman wrote in chalk “Obama = Plague” on a boarded up storefront, I would feel the same way. It is a call for incitement and social unrest. In this case, bravo NYPD.

        • Bloomie says:

          Have you seen people who are not social distancing? THEY are the ones who are keeping the epidemic going. THEY are the ones who are causing our healthcare workers to become sick. THEY are the ones who endanger society. Not someone writing in chalk on a plywood wall. Your priorities are out of whack.

          • UWSHebrew says:

            some bad behavior does not excuse other bad behavior. You may be surprised to know that I am entirely against the NYPD enforcing social distancing anywhere, in any neighborhood. At most, go somewhere, and encourage (hand out masks!) mask wearing. But to write tickets or arrest someone I think is a serious over reach of their job, even though they are just “following orders” (where have I heard that before?). Just like it is not the job of the US Army to “rebuild communities” in Middle Eastern countries, it is not the job of the police to have anything to do with mask wearing or social distancing.

        • Nancy says:

          I wish you didn’t use the word “Hebrew” in your name
          because you always make the most obnoxious, offensive comments and make the rest of us Jews look bad.
          This woman wrote in chalk—on a boarded up storefront—for God’s sake! She didn’t permanently damage anything!
          Her punishment was wildly disproportionate to her “crime,” even if it was a crime, which I’m not so sure about.
          And Trump did make this plague so much worse than it could have been. South Korea got its first case around the time we did, and things are back to normal there already. He has completely failed us. We have thousands of deaths, illnesses, lost jobs, decimated retirement accounts, and can’t even safely leave our homes, all due to his stupidity. He has ruined so many lives! He deserves any criticism he gets…and then some! And somehow I doubt that you’d make the same comment if someone had written, “Obama=Plague.”

          • UWSHebrew says:

            I will always keep Hebrew in my name. As to your personal feelings of shame that I am not just like you, tough.

    9. ZoomZ says:

      She basically got what she deserved.
      Forget her age and that she’s African American.
      If she was 23 and white, she’d have been treated the same.
      But – being 67, she should have known better.
      And, how many of us carry a chalk in our pocket or purse?
      And talking about taking people’s rights from them – how about the government taking our rights away for us to be outside, to walk with friends 4 feet apart and not 6, etc.
      These are not laws legislated by congress, these are laws made up by insecure politicians, feeling the strength they posses over us now.

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        I notice that Zoomz is very confident that the NYPD treats Blacks and whites in the same way. Of course, that provably WASN’T true in the Bloomberg era of racial profiling. But i assume you were speaking out loudly against that, and that you are appalled and vocal now when people urge bringing racial profiling-based stop and frisk back.

        But now you KNOW that the era of disparate treatment is over. Certainly you’ve studied the issue, and spoken to anti-racist and anti-incarceration activists to examine their evidence. Certainly you’ve read various books on the issue, such as The New Jim Crow, and can refute all of them. Certainly you have read anecdotal evidence and reports of whites being treated the same way as Ms. Nelson was.

        because, if you haven’t done these things, from whence your confidence that if she was “23 and white”, she would have been treated the same way?

        • Boris says:

          The essence of your argument is that someone can justify bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior. It’s a twisted society when minorities should be let off the hook because bean counters like you want more whites arrested to settle some score.

      • Sarah says:

        “If she was 23 and white, she’d have been treated the same.”


      • Ed says:

        (1) She committed a violation. Occasionally the police enforce the law against these minor infractions. (They also issue jaywalking tickets.) To argue that they shouldn’t means it’s ok for anyone to deface someone else’s property. (2) The way they allegedly handled the whole process is wrong. (3) It pays to carry ID at all times.

        • Irene says:

          No, that is not what it’s arguing. Do you hear yourself?
          A) It was CHALK
          B) people are DYING and you think this is a priority?
          c) SHOW me the last time a jaywalking ticket was issued in new york city — and I’ll show you you a black guy with a desk appearance ticket.

    10. yoma says:

      How come the guy who draws on the UWS sidewalks all the time isn’t charged with graffiti?

      Also, in reading the graffiti law, I don’t think writing non-gang, non-hate speech in chalk (as opposed to spray paint or indelible marker) qualifies as “intent to damage.”

      This is messed up.
      Also – they didn’t read her her rights.

      As for the case being sealed… what’s going on there?

      Do any cops or lawyers read the WSR and want to weigh in anonymously?

      • UWSHebrew says:

        That guy should be ticketed or arrested as well. Can’t stand him and his entitlement on Broadway and 72nd – 73rd.

      • soldier says:

        Sidewalks are not private property…
        This 67-years old person walking around with a chalk, looking for others’ property to damage in order to *express herself* or something – how is it normal?

        • bill wolfe says:

          corporations pollute the public’s visual environment with advertising in virtually every square foot of NYC. The motive is economic profit, not protected political speech.

          That is a huge crime – and a tort, called public nuisance.

          And you and the cops focus outrage on one small chalk talk? That is indefensible.

    11. Boris says:

      The property owner put up what looks like a nicely painted and above average looking sidewalk shed. Contrast that to what that neighborhood used to look like during decades of decay and filth when buildings were boarded up in a shabby way. Behaving like a vandal to deface another person’s property is not acceptable. Just because many of you like the message doesn’t make it tolerable.

    12. Janice says:

      This is absolutely insane. SHE WROTE IT IN CHALK!!!!

      To be arrested, put in a cell, fingerprinted and searched for God’s sake? Anyone who thinks this is ok cause she “defaced private property” is delusional. If she spray painted it, yeah, that’s defacing it. But it was written in chalk.

      The police are really out of control.

      PS Trump does equal plague. And I suspect the posters who think the punishment fit the action (cause calling writing in chalk which will be washed off in the rain a crime is a major stretch) are probably pro-Trump.

      • Peter says:

        Have you read the law? Did it specify exactly which writing implements enable defacement and which don’t?

        No, it didn’t. And you don’t get to decide, lawmakers already did.

        But you’re welcome to offer your own private property to anyone to write what they please – in chalk, pee-based invisible ink, radioactive paint, etc.

        The levels of cognitive dissonance reached here by some people who claim to want order, peace, respect, etc. are staggering.

    13. ruthie says:

      Her husband works for Columbia – see if she can go on campus and write on some buildings there (the university property.)

      • Deplorable says:

        CHALK!! SHE WROTE IT IN CHALK. If a white 67 year old woman did that nothing would have happened. Even if it had been on the wall of a Columbia building.

    14. Will says:

      I’ll say it time and time again, broken windows policing only causes more harm. Cops have discretion to leave people alone but they’re pressured by higher ups to behave this way, especially towards people of color. I’ve written in chalk and gotten reprimanded by the building owner, had the cops pull up, and only told me to wash it away with water, I know that I was treated differently than Jill because I’m white. This is outrageous and I hope the cops are dealt with accordingly. We stand in support with you Jill!

      • UWSHebrew says:

        sounds made up Will. methinks you’re trying to be a white knight, no pun intended.

        • mtag says:

          In what way could Will share his testament that you would accept, UWSHebrew?

    15. Boris says:

      She might think that her actions are harmless because she’s using chalk on a sidewalk enclosure and obviously many of you feel the same way. It’s still vandalism and it’s not that great a leap to predict that others who see her doing that will think it’s ok to paint graffiti on a building. Younger vandals who don’t care about much won’t care that they just defaced a nice building. Wonder how you’ll all feel when the blight creeps into your neighborhood. This incident occurred in Washington Heights – why is it in the WSR?

    16. Rodger Lodger says:

      She says she wasn’t read her rights. And what rights are those, in the absence of interrogation? Everybody who is arrested is suddenly a legal beagle.

    17. nycityny says:

      I saw this headline on my computer screen before I scrolled down to see the photo. My first thought was, “the writer must be black.” I scrolled down to see the photo and was so disappointed that I was right.

      I’m white, of a similar age, and live in the 60s. I’m fairly certain if I did the same thing, illegal or not, I would not have been arrested given the neighborhood and my race.

      It’s amazing during this pandemic to continue to see the disparity of treatment by the police between races. Ignore social distancing while white in Central Park – no problem. Do it in another part of town while black – get arrested.

    18. cathb says:

      We are supposed to look the other way regarding defacing private property (graffiti) based on age, skin color, message and gender? No thanks.

    19. Elle says:

      Come on people. It was chalk which can easily be washed or wiped away. Maybe what she did was not right but I bet the cops were Trump supporters. They could have given her a warning or a ticket. What a waste of time and resources.

      • Boris says:

        How can they give a ticket to someone who doesn’t have an ID? That’s the point of taking her to the station where they can establish her identity and then issue her a desk appearance ticket as you suggested. That’s how they prevent people who intend on committing a crime from simply not carrying ID and walking away.

    20. Suzanne Kalman says:

      I’m sorry but i cant imagine that any of you high and mighty haters who are so coldhearted can be anything but white.

    21. Michael says:

      When I read stories like this about America, it amazes me that you don’t realize that you’re living in a literal police state. And I’m dismayed at how many of you seem to know it but think it’s a good and just thing.

      • Boris says:

        I lived through the dark days of a decrepit, filthy, and crime-ridden NYC and don’t want to gradually return to those times. It’s necessary to use whatever measures are necessary to stop vandalism and crimes that you probably think should be tolerated. Do you think it’s ok to also look the other way when kids empty water buckets on cops? I’m often critical of cops when it come to productivity but support their doing their job for any violation/crime. You can’t pick and choose what should be enforced.

    22. NN says:

      I agree completely with the sentiment of her graffiti.

      She should not have written it even in chalk on a private building. The police had every reasonable cause to stop her and tell her she shouldn’t be doing it and confiscate the chalk.

      And what they actually did to her was outrageously far over the line of any reasonable response, and calls for serious training for the officers involved. Why would they do this? It’s bizarre and disproportionate.

      Some commenters here seem to have a really unreasonable idea that anyone who commits any infraction of the law regardless how trivial or small has earned almost any police response regardless how enormous and violent. Human beings make lots of mistakes and sometimes those mistakes are criminal. That doesn’t make them stop counting as human beings.

    23. Stephen Sunderland says:


    24. Kristi Boyce says:

      Horrifying. Jill, your community stands with you. This intimidation by NYPD is soaked in racism. I am so sorry this happened to you ❤️

    25. Dan says:

      I hope she writes it on the sidewalk for the rest of her life!

    26. UWSer says:

      Legally, I don’t know how this would stand up in court.

      “Graffiti” is defined in Penal Law §145.60(2) as the etching, painting, covering, drawing upon or otherwise placing of a mark upon public or private property with intent to damage such property. In other words, the acts of using a paint pen, a liquid aerosol container, a permanent marker, a pencil, a knife or a chisel to carve a marking out of property are all equally illegal under the graffiti statute.

      Since chalk is quite arguably non-damaging, the case likely would be tossed.

      However, she is IMO guilty of antisocial behavior. 1. When she left her home, she carried chalk, with intent to deface something. Though she claims she was just going to the drugstore 2. She complains in the article about this arrest occurring during a pandemic, and that she had to ask the police for a mask. Meaning, when she left home, during a pandemic and as a member of a high risk group, she did not have a mask! 3. She complains about people’s rights being taken away, but what about the rights of the property owner to have a nice clean wall.

      The police overreached – a warning would have sufficed. But she also should not be writing on other people’s walls, with chalk or anything else. And she needs to wear a mask!

      • MeInWhySee says:

        What makes you think she left home with chalk (and therefore the intent to deface)? I see random bits of chalk nonstop on UWS… or more accurately, my small kids who *love* chalk find it on nearly every walk; I spend a lot of time trying to prevent them from picking these bits of chalk up and making their own “graffiti”. I’d always wondered why there’s so much chalk laying around on UWS sidewalks until I started noticing repair/construction crews using it to demarcate sites and merchants/restaurants using it to write daily signage. Take a look for yourself, once you notice it, you’ll see it everywhere. I’m willing to bet Jill Nelson happened upon—rather than equipped herself with—the chalk used here. It’s a frightening state of affairs when a harmless act of protest instantly merits an aggressive response like this… almost as if someone were actively hunting for anything that might help meet a quota, no matter how ridiculous the “infraction.”

        I would LOVE to know if the building owner regards Ms. Nelson’s actions as “defacement” but since her statement (all 12 characters of it), was gone before she was released from police custody, seems they would not have had time to weigh in either way.

      • bill wolfe says:

        It’s not the non-damaging nature of the chalk.

        It’s the lack of intent: – the ordinance requires ” intent to damage such property”

        The woman’s “intent” was to express a political idea, not to damage property.

        Case closed.

    27. Bigboy says:

      you people are insane!
      She defaced property.
      I don’t care if it is chalk or her own blood. It is not her right to do that.
      And then of course the cultural elite radicals defend her. And then they throw the race card in as well. So taking this to an extreme if I was a skinhead and I put the swastika sign on that said shed would I / should I be arrested? And why should I? Of course you should. And ONLY because you are defacing said property and it is not yours. Do it on your property and you are within your right. Called Freedom of Speech. It has nothing to do with loving or hating Trump. She was wrong. Sorry she went thru that horrible process but girl grow up…oh I think that is way too late in her case and what does it matter if she is a famous writer , Jerry Seinfeld or a bum on the street? Lets have respect for what is not ours. How can anyone think differently?

      • mkmuws says:

        Wow, anyone who actually processed the entire article and not just the parts you’re talking about can certainly think differently. Many people here just completely glossing over the police behavior, which is at the core of the article. And those attacking the police behavior are not necessarily defending her actions. It is pathetic how people have become so incapable of holding two thoughts at the same time. Practice.

        • E.Go says:

          Exactly all this righteous indignation for the law while conveniently ommitting due process.No word on why her rights were violated except to point out she may be lying. Nauseating hypocrisy.

          Commomsensically, she should have been issued a ticket and someone should have contacted her home to verify her identity.

    28. NEF says:

      Congrats on your youthful and harmless act of resistance, Jill Nelson. Ironic, but not unexpected, that the cops would treat you badly. Ironic because Jill is the editor of the book ‘Police Brutality: An Anthology’ whose twelve essays address race relation in the US. This experience could be the Afterword in the next edition of the book.

      • Boris says:

        So you’re suggesting that this was a planned act meant to create new literary material and boost her visibility? Interesting angle.

    29. asha malhotra says:

      Two white men shoot a black jogger in Georgia and
      no charges are brought against them for over two months. Here a black woman writes a few words on public property and she is arrested and thrown in the cell for over five hours! Where is justice?

    30. I’m shocked to hear such hateful words coming from the mouths of neighbors of mine (if these posters are indeed UWS neighbors and not just randomly trolling for fun from God-knows-where). The world is a sad and scary place right now.

    31. Patty says:

      Pink chalk but no ID? Priorities are a bit skewed

    32. Chris says:

      Does noone else think it odd that a woman out on a quick errand would carry around chalk but not id? I mean if you had kids under 10 it would be normal but chalk is dusty and unless you intend to go around writing on walls, why would it be part of your go pack?

      • Sherman says:

        I was wondering about that too.

        I mean, if her graffiti was some spur of the moment impulse that’s one thing.

        But how many 67 year old women walk around with pink chalk?

        She clearly planned on doing this beforehand. I’m not saying the police were justified in their treatment of her – and we don’t know all the facts yet – but she was foolish for doing this.

    33. Jodi I Lustig says:

      I’m sorry did I miss the part about chalk not being chalk? Ridiculously racist arrest and mind-boggling rationalizations from folks I’m not proud to call my neighbors. Ready to sidewalk chalk with the Notorious Graffiti Grandma in Teddy Roosevelt park where children chalk up the Nobel Prize obelisk every day.

    34. Cmartens says:

      This is so infuriating.I expected to read everyone coming to Ms Nelson’s defense and was shocked to see the opposite. The police were crude and wrong. Threatening her with the Tombs and remaining over night – it is so absurd. A peaceful protest in chalk. Kudos Jill Nelson!

    35. David Dubnau says:

      Outrageous overreach by the cops. Writing in chalk which will disappear in the first rain? Slander? Trump slanders whole communities and fails to act competently against COVID causing thousands to perish. Trump=Plague indeed.

    36. ann s, says:

      Hard to understand the police mindset………
      aside from lacking in any humor..every bit of behavior is measured as some degree of crime..

    37. NoneOfYourBusiness says:

      Where are the freedoms that we supposedly have? She could write whatever the fck she wanted about DumbTrump…it’s her point of view. Doing it in the bldg. is the issue. Now, the NYPD exagerares a lot…they probably knew that she was a journalist, and since Police agents hates the media…that’s it! But it’s FREEDOM OF SPEECH…Id write “Fck Trump and his people”…

    38. J. L. Rivers says:

      The only reason this happened is because it was in upset Manhattan, where the police goes on overdrive with the rudeness and lack of CPR (courtesy, professionalism and respect).

    39. C. says:

      Sue for false arrest.

    40. mkmuws says:

      I’m with her. If you’re equating this truly petty crime with the larger civil liberties issues she’s discussing, well, maybe you’re part of the problem.

      • bigboy says:

        Hmmm interesting comments. Only in NYC kids only in NYC. I would think most would say put her in jail (or more humanely give her a ticket). Look, if i have a building and some one writes on that building “God Loves All His Special Children” and a cop sees it. Should I not be arrested for that? Of course you should. If I write “I love Hitler” of course you should. Why? Because it is my property. Nothing to do with freedom of speech! I think the cops went a bit far, but come on I get conspiracy theories on here now. They set her up now. They were just waiting for her with binoculars now. OMG! Really? You hate the cops till you need them and then you cry when they are not around. She broke the law. End of statement. Black, yellow, white or green.

        • mtag says:

          Why would you be arrested if someone else writes on your building “God loves children blah blah blah”? If you write “I love Hitler” on your building why would anyone else be arrested?
          Please check your pronouns and try again…

    41. Give me a break says:

      People are so politically charged these days that each person bends the arguments as they see fit, as if the act of defacing private property is admissible solely depending on what the message was. Grow up, people. And I mean you 67yo lady as well. Express yourself online, in your books, to your friends, from your window, but don’t complain when you get into trouble because you chose to cause trouble. Or who else here leaves home concerned enough to carry a piece of chalk in their pocket but not their own ID? Stick to the facts: if you’d like your walls defaced with her “art,” invite her over. But stop blaming the NYPD for doing its job. Her level of entitlement is quite something; she demand an apology for what, not being left alone while defacing private property?

    42. rochelle says:

      That is so awful and frightening. This is America, NewYork City, not some dictatorship country…OR IS IT?

    43. UWS says:

      It appears justice is about to be served so as you quote “show up, because if you don’t we’re going to come to your house and arrest you.”. Basically tell it to a judge, your not above the law regardless of the time.

    44. AC says:

      Not exactly the brightest chalk in the box.

    45. Jennifer says:

      I guarantee you if she was white she would not have been arrested. Come on. It was chalk on plywood. Let’s face fact – a black woman speaking her political voice is what triggered these cops. AND those that defend them.

    46. Laura says:

      What I’m wondering is: where did the pink chalk come from?

      • chris says:

        My point — she had the PINK CHALK on her. Weird. And as for this thing about color… if someone were scrawling all over YOUR building, I am sure you and your neighbors would not appreciate it. Write whatever you want on the sidewalk or other public property.

      • HelenD says:

        I must be missing something because I don’t understand why people are asking about the color of the chalk. Pink chalk comes from the same place blue and green and yellow etc. chalk comes from. A box of plastic container at the toy or stationary store. What’s the big deal about pink chalk???

    47. Marcia says:

      The irrational, bullying stance of the NYPD members who overwhelmed a respected member of the community for blowing off a witty bit of
      steam in the midst of a seeming;y endless plague is beyond comprehension. Could it be that she offended the NYPD cops with her anti-
      Trump graffiti? She was denied her rights’ not only should she have been read her Miranda rights, she should have asked for an attorney. Who’ll speak out for her? Columbia?. The Community? The mayor?

      • UWSHebrew says:

        Who cares if she is respected. I don’t care if you’re a Nobel prize winner or an ex-con, don’t participate in criminal activity. Why should ANYONE get a pass? Not you! And not me!

      • Boris says:

        You’re incorrectly introducing a perceived rights violation. If she had her ID at the time of the incident, she would have been given a desk appearance ticket and been on her way. Her identity had to be established which is why she was taken to the station. That act alone didn’t trigger the need to read her the Miranda warning which wouldn’t have been required in the first place to write a ticket for a Class A misdemeanor. A Miranda warning is required ONLY when in custody AND being interrogated which she was not. She had plenty of time until providing information for this article to find out whether she was entitled to a Miranda warning. Yet the first words out her mouth are about police brutality (rough cuffing; shoving her into the SUV) and that she was denied her rights in an attempt to convince others that she was wronged by the police who did their job properly.

        • Abdul Sayeed says:

          I disagree with you on so many other matters, but you are actually reasoning rather clearly here and shedding some necessary light.
          Still, you know, the problem here is the reality and the
          perception of highly unequal enforcement of the law.
          No doubt Ms. Nelson was somewhat in the wrong, but was the police response fair and proportionate — that is, according to Ms. Nelson’s account of it? For you know full well that their response can “vary.”

    48. boopsie says:

      If she were white she would have been reprimanded and given a ticket.

    49. Neil Morris says:

      Clearly, as a vicious criminal, Ms Nelson deserved to be locked up, to protect defenseless boarded-up buildings from desecration.
      If she wanted to break the law without seeing the inside of a jail cell, she should have lied to the FBI, instead. That’s a crime that carries no jailtime.

      • frank says:

        Ms. Nelson’s crime was writing her message in chalk rather than spray paint. A little rain and the graffiti would be washed away.
        Meanwhile, trump continues to show disdain for all the people who have died and are suffering because of his ineptness.

    50. gs says:

      Let’s see how “outraged” everyone would be if a white 67 year old woman said the same about Obama (thousands died of swine flu under his watch)…no doubt there’d be none. That man was a disgrace of a President as evidenced by all the dirty/illegal actions committed by him and his admin…Fast & Furious, Benghazi, IRS scandal, Russian collusion farce (Steele dossier, FISA lies, Mueller investigation, Paris accord (didn’t have the authority to bind the USA to an int’l treaty w/out senate approval), stirring racial conflict (Gates, Gray & Brown)…etc., etc., etc.

      I just retired out of NYC and couldn’t be happier. And oh by the way, let Cuomo & DeBlasio ask for all the federal assistance they want. As long as the state and the city do not comply with immigration laws, they should receive nothing. Let them self-fund their illegal “sanctuary” policies.

    51. BJK says:

      Why was she walking around (during a pandemic) with pink chalk on her person? She clearly intended to engage in this criminal act before going outside. The article says she was going out to “run a few essential errands.” No—she clearly had something very non-essential and criminal in mind—something that was intended to inflame controversy at this delicate time.

    52. mtag says:

      It’s very interesting how differently this topic is discussed on this newspaper site vs. a few Washington Hts FB pages. Not only are the folks so much more civil, they posted interesting info such as the fact she was arrested instead of ticketed simply b/c she didn’t have ID. I don’t think any of you all would have even know that last part.

      • Boris says:

        Being taken to the station in order to establish her identity is not considered an arrest for a Class A misdemeanor. How did the residents of Wash Hts. expect the police to give her a ticket if she didn’t have ID? Did they think that just her word should be taken about whom she is? But I’m not surprised that there are many people that would miss those points.

    53. Louise says:

      I support her action. It was a great statement to write and she should be thanked for her efforts to speak out against trumps death policies.

    54. Donna says:

      I wonder why would she had chalk with her but not her ID? How many do you know are walking with chalk, you know, so that they have it in case there is something to say:))?

      I’m a white women and was very pregnant when I was stoped and taken out of the subway for crossing from one car to another ,from a standing train in Times Square. I was yelled at and was told if I disagree, they will take me to the precinct. I had my ID with and was issued a summons. Out of four officers, three were black women and one white man. Do you think they racial profiling me? Against – standing train, pregnant But white woman, looking for an air-conditioned car. Why is Everything about race and no one is Taking any responsibility for their actions, do you think police should have checked first that she was writing in chalk and not something permanent?

      • lynn says:

        Just out of curiosity, how did it come to be that there were 4 police officers on the train? Were they all in the car and witnessed you switching cars, or did someone report it and they came to the car/station? I’m only trying to determine the logistics. Pre-Covid19 my coworker came in from another borough and couldn’t get any assistance for an elderly man who was unconscious on the train. She said the conductor was aware and would not stop the train. It wasn’t until almost 45 minutes later when they stopped in Manhattan that an EMT crew came in to assist him.

    55. Sheila King says:

      Unheard of ! Very disrespectful to a senior. This is folly..to lock someone jail for two words written in chalk. Should kids get the same treatment that write on the sidewalks? Expresses the level of disparate measures police will take to enforce their powers. It can ruin a persons life of and reputation.

    56. Ishmael Reed says:

      Given the history of New York, where blacks have been enslaved, lynched, burned alive, massacred by mobs, stopped and frisked and murdered by the Ton Ton NYPD. She’s lucky she wasn’t killed.

    57. Christy says:

      I’m so sorry you went through that! If you can afford an attorney he or she will wipe the floor with the cops then turn it around on them bc they didn’t read your rights. So racist and disrespectful. If I had been there I would have encouraged you or helped write with my own chalk. Besides chalk washes away so not really graffiti.

    58. Steve Lindsey says:

      I’m glad they never caught me when I placed my artist friend Jayk’s Zipper Skulls up and down the East Village, including on CBGBs a week before it closed.

    59. Gregory says:

      I see ‘The Sheeple’ have indignantly wakened on this thread, once gain co-signing jackboot police brutality. This time in the name of construction-boarded property rights over human rights ,once again. Those with zero empathy only betray how terrified they are of our Right To Dissent and their Neo-fascist leanings to boot.

    60. Frank Irizarry says:

      Graffiti is illegal without the consent of the property owner. No sympathy for law breakers.

    61. joseph hanania says:

      I doubt this arrest would have happened if she were white. If she had been a black male, the overzealous police might well have responded more violently. I also fail to understand the “crime.” Chalk graffiti is now a menace to New Yorkers? Really?

    62. Gregory says:

      ‘Thought crimes’ against Agent Orange, for those up here who know their Orwell.

    63. I am outraged by the way police conduct themselves towards people of color. Trump DOES in fact equal plague. She got that right. Do folks who do chalk drawings or graffiti on sidewalks get arrested?? That’s public property. No. Nobody cares. It washes off in the rain. This is racism pure and simple.
      Yours truly,
      a 67 year old white lady

    64. Sharaine Ely says:

      I do not think that because there are bigger things, this is therefore small! All of these injustices form a pattern of cruelty and corruption. Moreover these “smaller” things are often the key to ac climatizing people so they accept the major injustices—a bit like learning how to smoke from those early infrequent cigarettes. Never underestimate the supposedly small! Thank you for writing about this horrible experience, Jill Nelson.

      • mkmuws says:

        The fact that these injustices already have formed a pattern over decades makes the comments defending the behavior that much more egregious. All of those people have signed on to this systemic racism. Disgusting. You endorse any such discrimination and violation of your rights, independent of the crime, at your own peril. If this pandemic hasn’t taught you how rapidly the world can change in ways you’ve never seen, just wait til it’s your turn.

    65. Lorene Farnsworth says:

      This is shameful, it enrages me that many of us still can’t see the blatent racism and sexism that the police are allowed to display.

    66. Robin says:

      Outrageous! This wasn’t even permanent marking she made! Ridiculous!

    67. Robin says:

      After reading other comments I must say this: how many white people would have been arrested for CHALK graffiti? Like, NO ONE! If they really wanted to be sticklers they could have given her a desk summons or a ticket. That’s all it warranted.

    68. Michael Gage says:

      Many laws intentionally are written so that someone can be arrested for sneezing. Unless you are rich, white, and a friend of Donald, you may be arrested, and assaulted/killed by cop, for anything or nothing. My pet peeve are cops arresting innocent observers for ‘disturbing the peace’ by using their iPhones to record an incidents.

    69. PatJA says:

      I did some research on whether chalking was illegal some time ago. The law was fuzzy. It looked like at most you could get a misdemeanor charge–really just a ticket. (Writing in indelible marker or paint is clearly a crime. So are stickers on public property.)

      Then I checked to see if anyone ever did get arrested for it. As far as I could tell, it had been some five years since anyone had been charged with chalking.

      I did the research because I’m part of a group opposing a city plan for East River Park, and I wanted to see how much trouble some of our people might get into, since there was a lot of chalking done in the park and around the neighborhood. No one was ever stopped.

      During a raucous demonstration we held, people were chalking all over the place while the police looked on.

      Jill Nelson was singled out for harassment for something that is barely a crime and for which people have almost never been cited in New York.

    70. Janet Moore says:

      Violation of First Amendment rights to expression and free speech. Also, tax revenues way down, so they are looking for ways to raise money with fines and bail.

    71. i. saari says:

      I wonder if she’d have been arrested if she was a middle-aged white woman. This is a case of abuse of power by the police. I’d say the whole incident is ridiculous, but as a NYer who now lives in Calif., I find it horrifying.

    72. Mike 171 says:

      Hi Jill, “Welcome to Our Graffiti Family”. This is what we have been through since the late Sixties, over 50 years of writing on the walls and trains in Washington Heights (The Mecca of Graffiti). TAKI 183, Joe 182, Cay 161, Junior 161, JEC*, SJK 171, and myself Mike 171. We were chased, kicked, beaten, sprayed in the face, locked up for days with our paper work buried before seeing a judge. Then sentence to Community Service to scrub the train cars and subway walls. Hopefully your case will be dismissed and you can chalk it up as being a member with the Washington Heights Pioneers of Graffiti. Take care, stay safe and keep on Writing.

      • Jeep says:

        News flash: A message that can be easily eased by rain or two damp fingertips cannot be called “defacement”. At least with a straight face. I thought authoritarians hated looking ridiculous?

    73. Kaye Cee says:

      Show up for the desk appearance with an attorney and a contingent of free speech protestors. Also, bring photos of the resulting “defacement” of property in case that is brought as a charge. Free speech is still protected in this country, and hopefully, good sense of the judge will prevail.

    74. VBS says:

      So UWSHebrew – to be clear, the several HUNDRED PEOPLE that attended the Hasidic funerals and weddings the past few weeks should have bern arrested and detained and issued desk summons as a result of their blatantly unlawful actions during this national crisis? And since they clearly were NOT, how do u explain the difference in treatment? The fact is policing is NOT just about the words on the page, it’s also about discretion and discernment. There was no reason for this woman to have been treated this way and there is no excuse for it.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        How dare you bring up social distancing violations by the Hassidic community as a comparable! Jill Nelson broke the laws of defacing private property! There are no LAWS regarding social distancing! As I stated in a previous post on here, I am against ALL police actions regarding social distancing, no matter what the community, no matter where location! Your targeted hatred of ONE GROUP is disgusting!

    75. Sherman says:

      Keep in mind we are only getting Jill Nelson’s side of the story. We are not getting any input from the NYPD.

      Back in 2009 Henry Louis Gates, a black professor at Harvard, was arrested for allegedly breaking into his own home. This initially caused widespread outrage as the arrest appeared to be racially motivated.

      However, as more facts emerged it came out that Gates was in fact trying to jimmy his own lock. A neighbor reported to the police what she believed to be a robbery. When the police arrived to investigate Gates – by all accounts – became very confrontational and belligerent with the police. After lengthy investigations it was determined the arresting officer acted properly.

      So there was more to the Gates arrest and there is likely more to the arrest of Jill Nelson that we are not yet aware of.

    76. MikeO says:

      Have any of those posting that Ms. Nelson committed a crime bothered to look up the actual city ordinance under which she was arrested? It’s section 10-117, and while it specifically states no one “shall write, paint or draw any inscription, figure or mark of any type on any public or private building or other structure or any other real or personal property …” it then goes on to specify “b. No person shall carry an aerosol spray paint can, [or] broad tipped indelible marker or etching acid into any public building or other public facility with the intent to violate the provisions of subdivision a of this section.” You know what’s not mentioned there? Chalk.
      Further, section 145.00 of the N.Y. State penal law specifies graffiti damage of at least $250 for the action to be considered criminal mischief in the fourth degree, which is an A misdemeanor.
      So yes, perhaps Ms. Nelson used poor judgment, but what she did was clearly not a felony (i.e., in no way did it cost $250 or more to clean the chalk off that board) and in no way deserved the shabby treatment she received from those police officers. I hope she fights this to the end.
      Here’s a link to the info on nyc.gov:

      • Boris says:

        Your lawyering skills are not shining a bright light on this situation.

        The NYC Administrative Code Section 10-117 Subdivision (b) which you cite refers only to items taken INTO a PUBLIC building or facility with intent to violate Subdivision (a). Those are not the only items that are required to be used in violation of Subdivision (a). Subdivision (a) is the primary provision and mirrors the NYS Penal Code 145.60 “Making Graffiti”. Subdivision (b) enhances Section 10-117 by penalizing INTENT to violate (a) by carrying those items into a public building. The behavior doesn’t even have to be committed as long as intent is proved.

        Your citing of NYS Penal Code 145.00 is flawed in that a person can be charged under 145.60 which criminalizes graffiti and doesn’t have to meet the requirements of 145.00. But a person can be charged under multiple sections. Take for example someone who paints graffiti on a headstone and causes $300 in damage. He can be charged with 145.00, 145.60, & 145.22 (cemetery desecration).

    77. Elliot says:

      Years ago I grafittied a wall on east 10th st with WAR IS PEACE -Orwell~ and the cops busted me over it. Th only reason they let me go was cause I had my photo id.😡😫😏🌟

    78. jackie ryan says:

      “Tag” Jill writes about Tag.

    79. NPK says:

      This is a very very upsetting story. I try not to be someone who looks for racism around every corner but I do feel if Jill Nelson had been white they may have warned her but the over the top reaction by the police is very hard to stomach. Why aren’t they in Central Park or on the upper Westside streets stopping the joggers, bike riders and the numerous pedestrians who do not wear masks or practice social distancing?

    80. Steven says:

      Chalk > Handcuffs.
      Misdemeanor at worst.
      Like we don’t have enough real issues here.
      Oh, stop. Lower your dudgeon and get a life.

    81. Judith Wilson-Pates says:

      Dear Jill, So sorry you went through this, but as you point out it’s business as usual for many folks. Stay strong and keep spreading the word. Thanks for all you’ve done—over the years and by telling this story now.

    82. Boris says:

      Ms. Nelson was actually given preferential treatment by the NYPD. She was technically arrested and can be charged under NYS Penal Law 145.60 (Making Graffiti). But NYPD policy is not to issue Desk Appearance Tickets to persons aged 16+ years who are charged with violating 145.60. The protocol is that a person charged with that crime is processed through Central Booking and arraigned at a later court date. She was actually not eligible for a Desk Appearance Ticket so some discretion was used to allow her to go home straight from the station once her identity was established.

      • Claire says:

        They should change that so it is a DAT and not something they should waste time putting someone through the system for.

    83. UWSider says:

      67 years old. Childish graffiti? Grow up.

    84. Georgina Sanchez says:

      I think this is a violation of civil rights, she only deserve a ticket and that’s it. I thinks she should get signature to from the tenants and neighbors to reprehend and those police officer who did that to her. Elected official should be notify, It ld be made public in all newspapeps you be notify and the incident most be desiminated

    85. Sheila Savar says:

      I’m disgusted with the NYPD police that treated her so disrespectfully. I can’t help but conclude it was racially motivated.
      I feel for Ms. Nelson and hope this experience doesn’t lead to her experiencing depression and anxiety.
      I also hope she files a law suit against those officers. Police work for the people and need to treat citizens – ALL CITIZENS – with respect. They should not be allowed to use their badge to bully and intimidate the people they are supposed to serve.

    86. Gail says:

      What happened to her is outrageous and beyond the pale. Some things never change, especially with many police officers and police departments. What a waste of NYC taxpayers money to have arrested and jailed Ms. Nelson. Didn’t they have more important things to do, like catch “real” criminals who were doing much more serious crimes than writing two words of graffiti on a boarded up building?

    87. JL says:

      NYPD doing their jobs.-

      It weird how no one ever jaywalks in Manhattan.


    88. Nelson Canton says:

      Born and raised in NYC, I left 40 years ago and still miss the City. But I do not miss NYC’s finest. The only thing Jill deserved was a stern reprimand, not incarceration. A little mercy, and not a cult of sadism (the forerunner of fascism), would have gone a long way.

    89. Thankyou. I’ve been manhandled by Chicago cops for being a first responder in a traffic accident, where 2 small children were knocked down by a hit and run. I was telling police what happened, and was told to can it. A few more sentences came out of my mouth, and both my brother and I were cuffed and thrown in separate cars. The officer driving me tipped me off that the one who had u cuffed was a hot head. We were first responders! It ended ok. But we were caged until another brother- a high powered attorney- came an hour later. What our police state commands w no accountability is unlawful. I am a white male. No criminal background. None. What my brother and I both said when we were released: this is the harassment and worse people of color,but particularly blacks, face ALL THE TIME! I wasn’t surprised by the police, but disgusted and disappointed. And SO MANY deaths have occurred at the hands of law enforcement because of poor training, fear, and hatred. It’s a travesty. People, we need to seriously rise up!

    90. Doug in Madison says:

      Outrageous news, of course. Wish such godawful policing wasn’t so ordinary. Mostly, though, I want to compliment the reporter — I’m a thousand miles from New York, never heard of your publication before, but I’m addicted to well-written news coverage and this is that.

    91. Tamm E Hunt says:

      I hope you sue them and not let his go away.

    92. Within the city of New York where a decriminalization of marijuana laws is in place and your given a ticket for public use and the recently implemented Bail Law for NY State, the arrest doesn’t make sense. The amount of manpower used didn’t align with the alleged offense. This was not graffiti at most a very temporary work of art and freedom of speech.

    93. Sharon says:

      Skip the article and read the comments. Hate and privilege rule the day. Warn her. Give her a ticket. But to detain her for hours was a total waste of time, money, and manpower.

      • Boris says:

        How do you give a ticket to someone who doesn’t have ID? That was the point of detaining her. All the mistakes that were made are attributable to Ms. Nelson. It will be determined in the end that the police followed procedure. You can argue all day and have an opinion about the importance of what they did but you can’t tell them they made mistakes. But if you keep pushing the police to ignore most of the crimes that you think are unimportant, you’ll end up with a police force that will do nothing and let these neighborhoods go to sh*t. They’ll still get paid no matter what happens to the neighborhood. Do you want Wash Hts to look like East New York?

    94. Grace says:

      It really bothers me that this can happen in NYC, and on the Upper West Side, which you think of as an open, tolerant society. Heavy handed police action is just not what you would expect. This is the stuff we are outraged at when it happens in the Deep South.

    95. Boris says:

      I find it interesting that although Ms. Nelson was given an abundant amount of space to tell her story, she not once mentioned her race as an issue.The only mention of race was in her describing the desk sergeant as an African-American. Don’t understand why his race needed to be detailed. All he did, according to her, was inform her that she would be arrested if she ignored the Desk Appearance Ticket. She conveniently fails to mention that NYPD policy is to send people to Central Booking but that she got off easier with a DAT. While that detail might seem unimportant, it is not when taken in the context that she provided an incredibly long narrative of every action, thought, and emotion of that day. Instead, she seeks to rile up readers by describing the blunt, but accurate, advice given by the sergeant. Since when has bluntness not been experienced in even the most harmless of situations in NYC?

      I don’t suppose that Ms. Nelson would have held back her criticism of the NYPD if she felt her race was the primary factor in their treatment of her. I’m certain she would have mentioned it considering how much else she recounted. So if she’s not putting that issue front-and-center, why are so many commenters here doing that? Does she seem like a person who wouldn’t make those claims if they were important to her? If she were white and if she were this and if she were that…just stop it.

      • MJMiller says:

        Thanks for trying to intellectualize this so much Boris… good job at nothing. You can ignore the fact if you like, because most likely, your wife, your mother, or your aunt would not have been taken to jail for this nonsense… so you need to STOP with the BS. And I’m sure she mentioned the African-American desk sergeant because she was offended and taken aback by his tone and his blanket acceptance of her arrest, which was excessive and over-policing at its finest. You trying to take race out of it is in fact the offensive part, when that is indeed the only part that precipitated this action to begin with. It was easily a conversation and a slap on the wrist for a woman of a certain age, but no, they had to escalate it out of proportion, as they usually do with POC. Your “educated” way of excusing and/or making it okay is not okay… pure and simple.

      • mkmuws says:

        Glibly disingenuous or poor reading comprehension. You pick.

    96. Paul Fine says:

      I can totally understand and identify with Ms. Nelson. The smallest act of rebellion against Trump and his gang of corruption and genocide that be can give some feeling of empowerment to our day. The men (and women) who work for the police state I do not understand – although we should pity them. Obedience to venal authority is ultimately then most disempowering thing. Stay strong Ms. Nelson: You are loved.

    97. Joan says:

      Yes I seriously think the police need more training when deal with seniors and also the different cultures in community. It’s seeds like the a lot of racism also within the police department.During this pandemic it’s seems they mostly arrest ing black and brown people.What happen with the crowds in central park and on the beaches.Do you think because their are more whites police are assigned to police the poor neighborhood s SHAme on you.Mr Mayor be and Mr governor are we going backwards 50 yrs. This shouldn’t be happen

    98. Public says:

      The intolerance on both sides is really sad. Everybody is suffering because of this awful plague.
      NYPD Officer could have inquired about her artistic expression and issued a warning or ticket after-all it’s only chalk. On the flip side, the beloved Nelson may need a lawyer and a coloring book or start posting on rants & raves to get the ‘TDS’ outta her system?

    99. Marguerite Sheehan says:

      I think freedom of speech trumps (so to speak) the protection of property consisting of an ugly wooden shed blocking the view on the sidewalk. Tell me did the chalk damage the property, and why did it require 4 officers to take Ms. Nelson into custody? Don’t you have to pass a physical to join the police dept.? If this were Nazi Germany and she wrote this about Hitler we’ed all be applauding, and if you don’t see the parallel go back and read your history books.

    100. Bill says:

      Jill Nelson,power to the people,you took one for the team,TRump is a plague and you’re my hero.Thank you!

    101. Paula says:

      They need more than training,it’s obviously they have No home training nor respect.A pure disregard for human Respect. Just because they wear a badge they get that mentality of Superiority.

    102. Janet Bowen says:

      I am saddened and horrified that police are behaving this way towards anyone. Anyone of any color, sex, age. Anyone. I happen to be a white, female, retired MD. I was raised in the South, but never understood separate schools, facilities, treatment. I trained in family practice. Saw all ages, sexes, colors, and languages at my solo practice. Have always admired those who defend and protect the rights of all.

    103. Rock Engineer / Producer says:

      Jill Nelson. My heart is with you. I disagree with you, yet, as a true Liberal, I allow you free speech and the ability to express your mind and thoughts. If a person writes graffiti, they are guilty of defacing property. Do the crime. Do the Time.

    104. Barbara Litt says:

      Truly, truly unnecessary and despicable! The cops should be ashamed of themselves!

    105. Guest says:

      Base on her personal demographics she must be careful with COVID19 around.
      A few of the comments are over the top.
      Good coverage WSR, hope to read a follow-up.

    106. Bob says:

      What’s a 67 year old adult doing writing anything on someone else’s wall regardless of the medium? She’s aged well beyond the point of knowing better, and has no business whining about the consequences. Act your damn age, and own your actions.

    107. Patricia Fowler says:

      This is outrageous…I would think you would have a case to sue them..perhaps the ACLU or some other organization would help.. how dare they a person. Like this.

    108. Ingrid Perry-Houts says:

      Wow, the first comment I read said “you do the crime, you do the time. What is wrong with people? You’re ok with a writer, writing in chalk? What planet are you on? The arrest is terrifying. In fact the entire thing is terrifying. But commenters wxplaining it away is disgusting.

    109. J. Runder says:

      The Lady Runder was aghast upon reading this story.

      I share her sentiment.

      We stand by you, Ms. Nelson, and will from now on carry pink chalk in your honor.

      The older we get, the more we appreciate a little harmless mischief.

      We trust the judge will have sense enough to dismiss this nonsense on August 14th.

    110. JMA says:

      Actions have consequences.

      You know right from wrong. Ive seen warnings on billboards. I taught my kids what to do. Has nothing to do with color or race.

      Actions of talking back/smartmouthing answers/noncompliance/graffiti and disrespect all have reactions

    111. Please_Leave says:

      This is addressed to all the supporters of this person. I just purchased a box of pink chalk. I want to express my first amendment rights and come write on the walls and hallways of where you live. It will was off as you all claim. No harm no foul.

    112. Elizabeth Nieves Fontanez says:

      I want to know when are we all going to come together to do something ABOUT IT🙏💪.
      Yes sharing this is one way for sure but really we need to ORGANIZE ect ect…

    113. Sharon Barnett says:

      Someone may remember Jill from her articles on police misconduct. Wonderful writer. She did a lovely (long) investigative piece called “Cops Who Kill” published by the Village Voice years ago.
      Her arrest is such an abuse.

    114. Rev. F. Mark Mealing Ph.D. says:

      The arrant racism & authoritarianism displayed herein is undeniable & unmistakable. Chalk is very easily removed, if necessary, & the hoardings Nelson marked are temporary anyway. But why remove the Truth?

    115. N says:

      I’ve been going out without my full wallet when I weekly grocery shopping because I don’t want the extra weight. The officers should have spoken to her and let her go. This ia totally overblown reaction on their part. Chalk on a construction barrier..?! What is destructive in that case?

      • Boris says:

        Extra weight…really? If 9/11 taught us anything, it’s to always carry your ID. Not having an ID creates a significant burden on those responsible for dealing with a victim of some medical or health circumstance.

    116. Liz says:

      NYPD are idiots arresting an elderly women and threatening her in that manner and treating her like a full blown criminal

      Hope she gets attorney and sues this for false arrest

      • Boris says:

        This occurred a while ago and nothing reported about an attorney taking on her case. No attorneys are rushing in to make a case for false arrest. No civil rights organizations have even commented. As a respected author whose husband is an associate VP at Columbia Univ, it shouldn’t be too hard to trigger some connection that would raise hell over this. The only people complaining are WSR readers who cherry pick which laws and rights are important.

    117. Sandra Levinson says:

      This is outrageous. What says our mayor? He should call out the police by name.

    118. Kwame Whittaker says:

      The Book of Revelations should be te-written to include Trump’s name.
      So what? Miss Nelson’s whole family are upstanding Harlem residents whose family includes a well known dentist and an extremely talented film maker brorher. I hope he makes a film about this incident reflecting our disgust with this assinine president. The police over-reacted and it sounds like they had some bias. Let me get some chalk!!

    119. Muriel K.T. says:

      This is one incident and it could have been worse. How the police function is largely left to their own discretion at the time and scene of an incident. There’s no universal treatment although there ought to be one that supports human dignity, age, etc. We’re here and they’re here — it’s best to avoid each other when we can. This could be looked at as a mistake on both sides, but her treatment is inexcusable.

    120. Kat_77 says:

      What I find troubling about this story is that a grown 67 year old adult woman has committed an action that she refuses to take any responsibility for whatsoever. On top of that her message was one of hate. What was her endgame? To further promote divisiveness and polarization among us? I find nothing noble about defacing another person’s property nor of perpetuating negativity. Now she is playing the victim card. This woman needs to grow up. She needs to take full ownership of her actions and to accept the consequences of those actions.

    121. Constance Cooper says:

      “One of the cops said, ‘do you do this often?’

      And I said, ‘yeah, graffiti grandma.’”
      Oh, dear. didn’t you say you would say nothing until your lawyer was there? You were under arrest, after all.

    122. Mr. Douglas says:

      I was arrested for spray painting political grafitti on the sidewalk using a stencil in Inwood. (34the Pct)
      The judge/hearing officer dropped everything, and, with the proviso that I not do anything ‘bad’ again in the next 6 months, she said all records would be expunged.
      PS I’m 69 yo
      PPS The article doesn’t say where she wrote what she did.

    123. Ruth Bonnet says:

      This is clearly a case of racism, but why was she not in possession of a mask if she was going out? That’s my only question!

    124. Steven says:

      It is not ok to deface public property. In no way, shape or form. So are we saying its ok to deface public property if you’re an elderly black woman with a cause? That is exactly what it looks like.

      • EricaC says:

        Is it really possible to deface a plywood board surrounding an empty building?

    125. Jackie Lipton says:

      Shocking how this can happen here. It did happen here!
      So sad HOW DARE THEY ARREST AND HARRASS AND ERASE, graffiti in this case was art, freedom of speech a note of honesty and love because TRUMP IS EVIL personified. Tell me how I can help.

    126. Betty Neals says:

      Unfinished Song by Betty Neals: “Yesterday is dead, now, not the Pain. Yesterday is buried, won’t come again. Tell me what to say, Lord. Interpret what I see. ’cause if they take her in the morning, they’ll be back for me.”

    127. unreceivedogma says:

      In solidarity, people should go back and re-write Trump = Plague until the NYPD – obviously Trump supporters – give up.

      She didn’t write on the building: she wrote in the plywood that is temporary instruction.

      In the 70s and 80s artists in lower Manhattan did this all the time. Nobody bothered us. Her crime is that she’s black and got caught.

    128. Kate says:

      I don’t even know what to say to this dystopian climate that becomes more so each day. Sending love and light.

    129. Retonia Brashier says:

      I’m so sorry this happened to you. We as black people have never been seen as equals in this country and we are never fully safe. O hope you get your apology. But I’m not holding my breath.

    130. Nigel PEARCE says:

      This is outrageous how many black and brown people are being arrested for petty crimes in this moment but if you shot shot a black person in broad daylight there is no arrest until the public sees the video…hmmm

    131. Hope Morgan says:

      I am so upset by this over reaction and inherent racism displayed by the NYPD – I would like this story to be more widely distributed and the shame DeBlasio and the NYPD into an apology and am trying everything I know to make that happen as I wish everyone who reads this article would. Ms Nelson I hold you in the highest esteem!

    132. Dita says:

      Guess the cops still need to make a quota, plague or no. Curious tho who the owner of the empty building is, and whether this was a rentacop situation.