Joshua “Lakey” Hinson was fresh out of jail Thursday but almost immediately returned to the artwork that got him locked up the previous afternoon.
“The response from the city has been pretty beautiful,” the 2005 Longview High School alumnus said Thursday as he continued chalking geometric circles on the sidewalk beside Pelaia Plaza.
Since last spring, Hinson’s artwork — using geometry, yoga and symmetry to create blossoms on concrete around Longview and across the nation — has been heralded by civic, media and other agencies.
At 3:20 p.m. Wednesday, it got him booked into the Gregg County Jail on a charge of encumbering a sidewalk, with a $100 fine.
It all started when two guys walked across the street from a local bank building and told Hinson that he was trespassing, he said.
“I said, ‘You can call the police if you needed to. I’m on public property. I’ve done this. The newspaper covered it, so I’m going to go back to work,’” Hinson remembered, “so I bent back down, put back on my headphones and started coloring, and one of the guys tried to kick my chalk and push me. Luckily, his friend that he was with stopped him.”
Moments later, Longview police arrived.
“I said that I was going to continue doing my freedom of expression,” Hinson recalled telling officers. “They grabbed my arms and handcuffed me and took me in.”
City spokesman Shawn Hara said police were responding to a complaint they had received.
Thursday morning, a city prosecutor asked that the charge be dismissed “in the interest of justice,” Hara said.
Hinson was discharged from jail after noon. His mother took him to Longview Municipal Court to pay his fine, but that’s when he learned about the dismissal.
Hinson had few ill feelings about his time in jail.
“That was the first time I had ever been in general population,” Hinson said, adding that he’d been cited for his artwork before but never arrested until Wednesday. “The jail wasn’t bad. I was in a cool cell with people. I got to win three domino games, so I had the best experience you could have had for that one day.”
Ironically, moments after Hinson was taken away in cuffs, more than two dozen Pine Tree Parkway schoolchildren and their parents descended to the same sidewalk and left dozens of chalk art illustrations as part of an activity involving a local nonprofit organization.
It was quite the juxtaposition for nearby construction workers.
“Not long after he was gone, but there were like 30 kids and their moms out here,” worker Steve Curry said. “My first thought was they took his chalk and gave it” to the children.
Along with the charge dismissal, Hinson has gotten social media support online from more than 100 comments, posts and shares.
Supporters are organizing a Chalk the Block event at 2 p.m. Saturday on Tyler Street near the scene of the alleged caper.
“It does feel nice to know that there is support for what I’ve been doing,” Hinson said. “They appreciate the ideas that I’ve been doing.”