Overzealous police force make it illegal to stack rocks in Boulder County. WTF?
Boulder has really been going overboard with the unnecessary rules lately. First, there was the controversial e e-cigarette ban that made it so the only place you could smoke a tobacco product in Boulder was ... outside of Boulder. Then, they banned dispensary coupons. Yes, coupons, the widely known source of evil and immmorality. You read that right.
And now, Boulder has extended its 1984-style government reach even further into the personal lives of its people by ... drum roll, please ... banning the artful stacking of rocks.
??????!!!!!!! What the fuck are we supposed to do on our lunch breaks now?
The ban is a direct result of an issue that local "rock artist" Gravity Glue had with the Boulder Police Department. According to a statement he made on his Facebook page, a police officer got sick of his beautiful, meditative rock sculptures and saw to it that this kind of gravity defiance could be punishable by law. Here's the back story from that same statement:
For the past 7 years i have been creating this art in and around Boulder, Colorado, USA. nearly every day! it has become a huge part and long standing positive aspect of the local spirit of Boulder. I'm not the first, and i definitely will not be the last.
just this weekend, one police officer has decided that balancing rocks in Boulder, Colorado is now illegal, obscurely referencing two city codes about "destruction of public property" in relation to rocks.
Boulder city codes: 5-4-8, and 5-4-2
any local lawyers out there who want to support this case, please feel free to contact me through private message to discuss in more detail.
so now the police have belligerently taken it upon themselves to write tickets and/or arrest ANYONE balancing rocks in Boulder, CO. and specifically threatened to ticket me and/or arrest me if they catch me in the future.
Yes, because balancing river rocks is one of the greatest threats to health and safety in Boulder County, and enforcing its illegality is a smart and exacting use of police resources.
This, not heroin dealers or serial murders, is public enemy number one:
Here's a video of Gravity Glue stacking rocks in Boulder Creek so you can see just how dangerous and disruptive his artwork is.
If you're a little dull, that was sarcasm up there. It's pretty clear to anyone who has eyes that Gravity Glue's rock art isn't quite the threat to citizen safety the BPD makes it out to be.
This brings up an interesting point: We've said it before and we'll say it again. Boulder has above-average rates of rape and theft, yet the city has been spending an inordinate amount of time focusing on making things like coupons and bleeping rock art an issue necessitating police attention. When will Boulder's government start tackling issues that really matter?
Anyway, if you want to repeal Boulder's Draconian rock art witch hunt, Gravity Glue is asking for help.
"This is where I would really like ALL of your support and better yet, ACTION!" he said on his Facebook. "The phone number for the city attorney's office is (+1) 303-441-3020 (who has the power to issue a permit superseding police jurisdiction in this case). I encourage as many people as possible (especially locals) to contact the city attorney's office and voice your support for this long standing tradition in Boulder. It is something that an overwhelming portion of the community supports (including several police officers throughout past experience) (also, you should have seen the crowds yesterday at the Boulder Creek Festival absolutely in awe of what I was making). Countless people commented that it was the coolest thing they saw at the entire Boulder Creek Festival."
Why is any of this important? Because if we ban every bizzaro Boulder character that causes a stir (see: nude gardening woman), we're left with nothing more than a college town with a Target that's about to become Google's new headquarters. As the city moves towards commercialization and the eventual takeover of the tech industry, it's important to retain as much of Boulder's ingrained originality and creative thought as we can. At a time like this, we need less kid gloves in the form of overzealous legislation, and more attention paid to retaining the city's core personality. And if you don't like that, fucking move to Westminster.
Keep Boulder weird, and keep Gravity Glue making weird ass rock art.
---- UPDATE: May 28th ----
After we used the conflict to make a point about how Boulder's recent enthusiastic over-legislation had gone too far, the article created ... how would you say ... a stir?
Readers quickly took Gravity Glue's side, upset that the local government had meddled so intimately in citizen life. News of Boulder's alleged over-protective law-making spread quickly, and people were pissed.
And now, it appears that the upset the situation caused has had an real effect. After posting this article, there's been a real outpouring of support and a lot of calls to the City Attorney, which have made a real difference. It's great to see community involvement like this and that something's being done.
According to a comment Gravity Glue left on our Facebook page, Boulder's City Attorney emailed him directly to let him know he would not be facing charges for rock stacking in Boulder County.
Here's what he said:
~~~ PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT!!! ~~~
UPDATE: holy shit! maybe the support was more than i anticipated!! just got a call from the city attorney personally here in Boulder telling me that he has ordered the police to NOT cite rock balancing under the city codes i mentioned below!!!
THANK YOU everyone for the overwhelming support!!!! they must have gotten lots of calls!! haha :))
However, after speaking with the City of Boulder ourselves, we got the backstory on what really might have happened. First of all, rock stacking isn't currently illegal in Boulder, and that the officer's main concern was supposedly the irregular flooding that Gravity Glue's art might cause.
That's fair. Given the amount of rainfall we've had this year and our prior flooding history, anyone who's thinking about proper flood control strategies has their head in the right place. We're not sure how exactly Boulder police convinced Gravity Glue his magnificent rock sculptures were illegal, but we're looking into it.
However, even though it is actually legal to stack rocks, this whole drama between the City, Gravity Glue, and Boulder residents brings up a really interesting, important point: these are the kinds of issues, the kinds of back-and-forths between Boulder's government and its people, that we have to deal with right now. In our privileged, first world city, battles over things as harmless as meditative rock art are what's on our plates. Not massive police brutality, not disease, not a decaying economy ... rock art. And for that, we're pretty lucky.
That being said, there are real issues at hand in the city, issues that get overshadowed by Boulder's #firstworldproblems like rock stacking. Google's takeover of Boulder is a huge one. The exploding housing market that's pushing poor and middle class families out of Boulder is another. Then there's the rape rates. The heroin problem. The flood risk and lack of preparedness. If anything, we should be using this psychodrama with Gravity Glue to call attention to those issues that we hope both the City and the BPD start prioritizing.
So, long story short, there are three lessons to be learned from this incident.
1. You can stack rocks in Boulder.
2. Your actions have an effect on local government. The fact that the City's attorney messaged Gravity Glue to personally inform him there would be no charges brought against him is a perfect example of that.
3. Boulder has a lot of larger issues to address.
We'll keep you in the loop about any future developments with this story. In the meantime, we'll be over here rock-Jenga-ing ourselves into oblivion.