Comic book out­fit is no joke to po­lice

The Washington Post Sunday - - OBITUARIES - BY MARTIN WEIL martin.weil@wash­

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.

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