Bank of America Chalk Protester Faces Possible 10 Years in Jail

Bank of America Chalk Protester Faces Possible 10 Years in Jail
Todd Dwyer / Flickr

Updated at the bottom: A jury found the guy not guilty. First posted at 9:08 a.m. Monday.

What do you get for writing political messages in front of a Southern California Bank of America using washable chalk?

More than 10 years behind bars. Potentially. Such is the saga of Jeff Olson, who expressed his distaste for Wall Street banks and their role in the Great Recession on the sidewalk outside his local B of A branch:

Olson admits to writing the messages outside his local Bank of America in San Diego's North Park neighborhood. He told San Diego's KFMB (channel 8):

I wrote 'No thanks big banks,' I wrote 'Shame on Bank of America.

San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Reportedly under pressure from the bank, the San Diego City Attorney's office charged Olson with 13 counts of vandalism.

More than 10 years would be the maximum possible time, and Olson, if convicted, would more likely see just a fine. But it's still a case of throwing the book at a guy who used chalk on a sidewalk.

He says he committed free speech, but a San Diego Superior Court judge has ruled that such an argument will not be heard before a jury.

To add to all that drama, new San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, who's notoriously liberal, isn't too happy with City Attorney Jan Goldsmith's decision to prosecute.

Filner has requested that the City Council take up the matter during the soonest possible closed session meeting. He told reporters Friday:

It's water-soluble chalk. They were political slogans.

[Update at 2:12 p.m. Tuesday]: A jury essentially tossed out the case against Olson, finding him not guilty on all charges. Now if only the City Attorney could be prosecuted for being a douche.

See also: Chalk Walk Protesters Blocked Sidewalks, Rushed Streets During Occupy Art Walk Riot -- LAPD.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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