Would Obama-As-The-Penguin Posters Have Been OK?


Clermont Florida poster of President Obama as the Joker, under State Road 50 overpass.

Vandalism is likely to be the charge in the case of the Clermont, Florida Joker posters. An unnamed individual has been questioned by local police in connection with placement of signs around town showing the familiar image of President Obama as Heath Ledger's edgy, reinvented Joker in 2008's rebooted, dark, edgy Batman 2.0 reimagining The Dark Knight. I just spoke with Clermont Police Capt. Eric Jensen about the circumstances of the interview and the case-building process described by the Orlando Sentinel here:

City officials, meanwhile, are trying to determine what local crimes might be associated with the posting of the images on public and private properties. They've also been busy ripping down the sticky signs because they're a violation of city ordinance regarding illegal signs.

Jensen said he doesn't have a good count on the number of posters put up because, he said, "People are going out and tearing them down."

In a press release put out late today, Jensen said the suspect "also asked if he could video tape the encounter with the officers." Clermont Police declined that request.

Asked how the police had veto power over the videotaping of a voluntary and cooperative interview with a non-arrested person of interest, Capt. Jensen said that the police would have refused to conduct the interview if the suspect had insisted on filming it. He chose not to elaborate. He did not know whether the interview had been conducted at the police station or the suspect's home.

Explaining the difference betweeen how the police treat standard political campaign signage and how they're treating the Joker posters, Jensen said: "In those cases usually the signs are mounted on a stick in the ground. These signs were glued to private, city, state and federal property. They have to be scraped off, all the glue has to be removed, and the property has to be washed off. So there's a difference."

No charges have been filed. Jensen said the police are still building a case, which they will then present to the local state attorney.