Meriden officials continue to investigate creepy clown sightings

(WFSB)

Three more arrests happened on Wednesday as communities continue to crack down on a number of online threats and actual sightings of creepy clowns in their town.

While police say the threats aren’t credible, it shows they are taking it seriously.

Police in Connecticut have arrested at least six people in these threats, but in Meriden they have actually had people dress in clown costumes.

Legal experts said while it might not be wise, especially right now, it isn’t illegal.

"This isn't a joke and obviously we want it to go away as quickly as we can,” said Meriden Mayor Kevin Scarpati.

In Meriden, they’ve already had five reported clown sightings, along with what turned out to be a false alarm on Tuesday night.

"I've spoken with some of our officials in the department, other officers and they've said, if anything they'd look to charge them with disturbance of the peace,” Scarpati said.

Just because someone puts on a clown costume or a mask, doesn’t mean they can automatically be arrested.

"There's got to be something else involved. You have to be creating a disturbance, threatening somebody, something like that in order for police action to be appropriate,” said Dan Barrett, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union Connecticut branch. "If the kid just decides it's funny to dress up like a clown and walk down the street, that's protected activity. Maybe it's somewhat odd, but that's the nature of our democracy. On the other hand, if the kid is menacing people, that's appropriate for the police to investigate. But simply being dressed in a particular way is not a crime."

On Wednesday, Connecticut State Police took to Facebook, saying in part “While it’s not illegal to dress as clowns, it is illegal to do so with the intent of causing alarm. Individuals dressing as clowns and engaging in threatening or alarming behavior will be immediately addressed by law enforcement.”

"If they're on a city street, on a sidewalk, is that justifiable disturbing the peace? Obviously if there are sightings in people's yards that's trespassing, so we can arrest someone for that. If someone has a weapon we can arrest someone for that. Swinging a baseball bat at a car, like we heard last week, those are arrest-able offenses,” Scarpati said.

The mayor said for now, they are just asking people to keep the clown costumes packed away until Halloween.

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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