A Virginia man was charged with a felony for wearing a clown mask. Jamar K. Washington, Jr. was arrested in Virginia Beach after running into a movie theater wearing the mask last October.
Washington has stated that he and a friend, Blake Newton, bought the masks in the morning and had been wearing them throughout the day with no problem. The friends eventually entered Regal Columbus Theaters and, according to Virginia Beach police, frightened moviegoers.
As reported by fox43tv, the friends were not arrested for inciting panic. Instead, the men were charged with felonies for wearing clown masks in public. According to Virginia law, wearing a mask in public is a Class 6 felony, and there are few exceptions to the law.
Virginia law strictly prohibits anyone over the age of sixteen from wearing a face mask in public. The only exceptions are for holiday celebrations, employment, or medical necessity or during a disaster.
The 1960 law was created in response to KKK members who traditionally wear cloaks and hoods covering their head. It has been revised several times, as stated in the Code of Virginia, but few exceptions have been added.
Currently, the exceptions do not allow for religious clothing that covers the face or ski masks in the winter. Furthermore, there is not exception for anyone over 16 running around town in clown masks.
As reported by PilotOnline.com, police reports released yesterday revealed that the two men caused a panic when they entered the theater. They initially ran from police but were caught using the department’s K-9 unit.
The men contend that they had been hanging out in Virginia Beach all day and wanted to watch a movie. They say they did not intend to frighten people.
Interview with theater scare suspects
Police officers felt their behavior was especially insensitive considering the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Both men denied knowledge of the shooting in Colorado.
Washington has plead guilty to the felony charge of wearing a clown mask in public. His sentencing will take place on June 18. The maximum sentence for a Class 6 felony in Virginia includes a $2,500 fine and five years in prison. Blake Newton will be in court today facing the same charges.
[Image via deviantart]