California man faces 13 years in jail for scribbling anti-bank messages in chalk

Updated July 2 2013

Update is at bottom of page.

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June 26. 2013

Jeff Olson, the 40-year-old man who is being prosecuted for scrawling anti-megabank messages on sidewalks in water-soluble chalk last year now faces a 13-year jail sentence. A judge has barred his attorney from mentioning freedom of speech during trial.

According to the San Diego Reader, which reported on Tuesday that  a judge had opted to prevent Olson’s attorney from “mentioning the First Amendment, free  speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or  political speech during the trial,” Olson must now stand  trial for on 13 counts of vandalism.

In addition to possibly spending years in jail, Olson will also  be held liable for fines of up to $13,000 over the anti-big-bank  slogans that were left using washable children’s chalk on a  sidewalk outside of three San Diego, California branches of Bank  of America, the massive conglomerate that received $45 billion in  interest-free loans from the US government in 2008-2009 in a bid  to keep it solvent after bad bets went south.

The Reader reports that Olson’s hearing had gone as poorly as his  attorney might have expected, with Judge Howard Shore, who is  presiding over the case, granting Deputy City Attorney Paige  Hazard’s motion to prohibit attorney Tom Tosdal from mentioning  the United States’ fundamental First Amendment rights.

“The State’s Vandalism Statute  does not mention First Amendment rights,” ruled Judge  Shore on Tuesday.

Upon exiting the courtroom Olson seemed to be in disbelief.

“Oh my gosh,” he said.   “I can’t believe this is  happening.”

Tosdal, who exited the courtroom shortly after his client, seemed  equally bewildered.

“I’ve never heard that before,  that a court can prohibit an argument of First Amendment  rights,” said Tosdal.

Olson, who worked as a former staffer for a US Senator from  Washington state, was said to involve himself in political  activism in tandem with the growth of the Occupy Wall Street  movement.

On October 3, 2011, Olson first appeared outside of a Bank of  America branch in San Diego, along with a homemade sign. Eight  days later Olson and his partner, Stephen Daniels, during  preparations for National Bank Transfer Day, the two were  confronted by Darell Freeman, the Vice President of Bank of  America’s Global Corporate Security.

A former police officer, Freeman accused Olson and Daniels of   “running a business outside of the bank,” evidently in reference  to the National Bank Transfer Day activities, which was a  consumer activism initiative that sought to promote Americans to  switch from commercial banks, like Bank of America, to  not-for-profit credit unions.

At the time, Bank of America’s debit card fees were among one of  the triggers that led Occupy Wall Street members to promote the  transfer day.

“It was just an empty  threat,” says Olson of Freeman’s accusations. “He was trying to scare me away. To be  honest, it did at first. I even called my bank and they said he  couldn’t do anything like that.”

Olson continued to protest outside of Bank of America. In  February 2012, he came across a box of chalk at a local pharmacy  and decided to begin leaving his mark with written statements.

“I thought it was a perfect way  to get my message out there. Much better than handing out  leaflets or holding a sign,” says Olson.

Over the course of the next six months Olson visited the Bank of  America branch a few days per week, leaving behind scribbled  slogans such as “Stop big  banks” and “Stop Bank  Blight.com.”

According to Olson, who spoke with local broadcaster KGTV, one  Bank of America branch claimed it had cost $6,000 to clean up the  chalk writing.

Public records obtained by the Reader show that Freeman continued  to pressure members of San Diego’s Gang Unit on behalf of Bank of  America until the matter was forwarded to the City Attorney’s  office.

On April 15, Deputy City Attorney Paige Hazard contacted Freeman  with a response on his persistent queries.

“I wanted to let you know that  we will be filing 13 counts of vandalism as a result of the  incidents you reported,” said Hazard.

Arguments for Olson’s case are set to be heard Wednesday morning,  following jury selection.  Source

Just when you think,  the US cannot get any more ridiculous, then it already is, something like this comes along.  The chalk washes off with water. Think about it.

It is the same chalk millions of children use. So are Judges going to imprison little children for their chalk drawings as well?

Unbelievable.

Words cannot describe my thoughts on this. This is beyond imagination.

Chalk Bandits. The new American enemy.

Every American should send a Chalk message to this Judge.

Chalk it up to a good idea.

How much will it cost taxpayer to keep this Chalk Bandit in jail for 13 years?

What an absolute waste of court time and tax dollars.

That money should be used for anything, but this. Education comes to mind.

The Judge needs one.

No Freedom of Speech.

Another take on this story HERE

There Really are Chalk Police in America

Seems in the UK Cops may be just as bad.

A girl aged ten was told by police that she  could be arrested for causing criminal damage – over a game of  hopscotch.

Lilly-May Allen was playing with a friend on  a grid she had chalked on the pavement in front of her home when a marked police  van pulled up.

An officer warned the girls that using chalk  on the pavement was criminal damage and they could be arrested for it, before  driving off.

But the girls did not understand what they  had done wrong and Lilly-May is now reluctant to play outside, according to her  father. For the rest go HERE Got to love some of the comments at the bottom however.

Bank of America protester acquitted of vandalism

July 1 2013

A San Diego, California man has been acquitted of vandalism charges after being threatened with 13 years in prison for scrawling anti-bank slogans on a sidewalk with chalk.

 

A jury deliberated for less than five hours on Monday before deciding to acquit 40-year-old Jeff Olson on the 13 counts of vandalism he was charged with after protesting Bank of America using children’s chalk, Reuters reported.

Under California guidelines, Olson could have been sentenced to 13 years in prison and asked to pay $13,000 in fines if convicted. When he spoke out against the absurdity of the possibility last week, Judge Howard Shore issued a gag-order to ensure Olson and others wouldn’t discuss their case further.

Judge Shore has issued a gag order prohibiting all counsel and parties from commenting or expressing opinions on the case upon penalty of criminal contempt. All I am permitted to say is that I disagree,” Olson said over the weekend in an email to RT.

Olson previously told reporters, “My chalk drawings are clearly free speech and protected by the First Amendment,” and said after his victory on Monday that the dozen jurors apparently agreed.

The jury sent a strong message that freedom of speech is alive in San Diego,” he told reporters outside of the courthouse.

I’m really relieved,” Olson added to U-T San Diego. “It’s been an incredibly stressful situation. It feels really good to know that the people of San Diego as represented by the jury are on my side.”

Olson’s supposed crimes consisted of using washable chalk to write messages such as “No Thanks, Big Banks” and “Shame on Bank of America” on the sidewalks outside of branches in the San Diego area throughout 2012 after the Occupy Wall Street movement first began gaining momentum. He told San Diego 6 News last week that he was being prosecuted in part because City Attorney Jan Goldsmith has received campaign contributions from at least two big name financial institutions and, “If I had drawn a little girl’s hopscotch squares on the street, we wouldn’t be here today.”

His purpose was not malicious. His purpose was to inform,” defense attorney Tom Tosdal told CNS News of Olson.

Source

The gag order is way out of line. One has to wonder what the Judge was thinking. a gag order over chalk comments, is beyond imagination.

The jury stood up for all Americans Free Speech. The jury also protected children from the same type of foolishness.

Congratulations to all the jurors, who sat in on this trial, for making the right derision..

The Judge on the other hand? Well, you decide.

If you thought this was ridiculous then take a look at this one.

What is happening in the US, is so off the charts, there is no description for it.

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Published in: on June 26, 2013 at 4:55 pm  Comments Off on California man faces 13 years in jail for scribbling anti-bank messages in chalk  
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