Myrtle Beach

Photo by Ali Cohen

University police in South Carolina handcuffed three students Monday for using chalk to write protest messages on a sidewalk regarding the Ferguson non-indictment, seizing the chalk as evidence while accusing them of causing $1,000 in damage.

But the Coastal Carolina University cops released the students when they realized that another student was taking photos of the arrest.

According to Myrtle Beach Online:

He said the officers didn’t initially identify themselves as police Monday night when they stopped him, his roommate and another friend. Wright said they asked them what they were doing and they told them they were drawing.

The senior said he had just finished writing the word “justice” when he was told to stand up and put his hands behind his back. When he asked why, Wright said the officer told him not to resist. He said his friends also requested answers but didn’t receive any.

“It was like some sort of game,” he said. “They were like puppies excited to get out of the cage and get to do something.”

Wright said the three were released only after another student saw what was happening and began taking photos of the incident.

“The tone completely changed,” he said. “It wasn’t as much of a game anymore.”

The students said they were using chalk to write messages on the sidewalk because not only could it easily be washed off, but student clubs and organizations do the same to promote their events.

However, they were told they needed to get a special permit to do the same or it would somehow lead to $1,000 in damage to the sidewalks.

Over the weekend, Coastal police began investigating other chalk messages that had been written on the campus. Those notes also mentioned the Brown case and some of the comments were vulgar, according to a separate police report.

When police discovered the three students putting chalk messages on sidewalks Monday night, they told them they could not write on university property without “proper approval,” a police report states. Officers took photos. The chalk was seized as evidence. The police report was labeled “illegal graffiti.”

The report also lists damages of $1,000, but Wright said the chalk could easily be washed off with water.

Ali Cohen, who took the photo, posted it on Facebook where several students criticized them for writing messages about Ferguson, calling it vandalism.