Comic book outfit is no joke to police
In the Virginia city of Winchester, 75 miles northwest of Washington, police said they received calls on Friday about a suspicious person dressed as the Joker.
Police said the man was spotted walking, wearing a black cape and carrying a sword. They made an arrest. Jeremy Putman, 31, was charged with wearing a mask in public, police said.
Photographs posted on the website of the Winchester police department show a man in makeup that appears to rival anything in the many “Batman” films and TV shows that feature the Joker character as an arch-villain.
In the police photos, the man’s hair appears to be dyed green or yellow. His face is painted white, and his eyes peer from blackened rings. A garish streak of red runs across his lips.
Winchester police said Putman was charged with wearing a mask in public, a charge that on its face may seem curious or quaint.
The police cited the relevant section of the Virginia Code and gave its provisions.
A portion of the law stipulates that violators must be older than 16, and wear a mask, hood “or other device” that hides or covers a substantial part of the face with the intent of concealing identity.
Anti-mask laws have been passed in many states as a deterrent to various kinds of criminal activity. They were also enacted, it appears, as a means of curtailing the activities of such groups as the Ku Klux Klan.
It was not clear Friday night what made callers report the masked man as suspicious. Also unclear was why the police thought he was trying to hide his identity.
Police said they had received several reports earlier in the week that were similar to Friday’s but did not think additional people were involved.