Man Who Scrawled Chalk Protests on Sidewalk Against Big Banks Faces Possible Prison

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sidewalk chalk not a crime

Photo via Occupy UCI

Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin:

Jeff Olson, 40, of San Diego is currently on trial for writing messages on sidewalks protesting big banks and their predatory practices.  Olson used water soluble chalk to express his advocacy on public walkways in front of three Bank of America branches in San Diego.

Yes, by water soluble it means that when it rains or is hosed down the chalk dissolves.

Months after he finished chalking his protests, he was charged with 13 misdemeanors that could, conceivably, land him in jail for nearly 13 years.

The trial, which is now underway, allegedly resulted from the contracted head of security for Bank of America in San Diego, Darell Freeman, leaning on his apparent former colleagues in the SD police department. Paige Hazard, deputy city attorney, informed Bank of America's local security chief of the charges against Olsonafter a prosecution referral was received from -- get this -- the city's gang crimes unit. [...]

If Bank of America feels that it suffered "real and substantial monetary" damages as a result of Olson's scrawls, let them prove it. [...]

If you wonder about how far the apparatus of the state has crossed over into protecting wealth over protecting constitutional rights, look no further than the case of Jeff Olson.

A San Diego television station reported this chilling twist to the opening of the trial on June 26:

During pre-trial motions prosecutors introduced a motion to prohibit Olson’s defense attorney Tom Tosdal from using the words First Amendment, free speech, free expression and other similar terms during the trial. The judge agreed saying jurors should focus on whether Olson committed vandalism and not why he did it.

This is happening in a court of law? The protection of banks from chalk scrawlings supercedes the Constitution? [...]

The presiding judge in this farce of a trial -- and a waste of taxpayer dollars on prosecution -- issued a gag order on Thursday for the defendant and almost everybody but himself.  The clearly pro-bankster jurist even rebuked the mayor of San Diego for calling the trial a waste of time. [...]

As one commenter noted in the June 27 San Diego Reader update about Judge Howard Shore's judicial stomping on the First Amendment: "Just when you think it can't get any nuttier, it does. A gag order for a misdemeanor case?"

According to another commenter, Mass. Senator Elizabeth Warren read about Olson's plight and allegedly tweeted, "You've got to be kidding me."

Please read the entire post here.

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  • Paul Browne

    This is too stupid to believe.

  • Paul Browne

    This is too stupid to believe.