Bank of America "Chalk Vandal" Found Not Guilty

Great news from the land of trial by jury, where ordinary citizens are the final check on government tyranny.

A 40-year-old man was acquitted Monday of 13 misdemeanor vandalism charges that stemmed from protest messages written in chalk in front of three Bank of America branches in San Diego.

Jeffrey David Olson's attorney argued during the trial -- which garnered national attention -- that his client was engaging in a legal protest and was not maliciously defacing of property.

Olson could have faced up to 13 years behind bars if convicted of all counts. Jurors began deliberating Friday...

The prosecution of Olson brought condemnation of the City Attorney's Office from Mayor Bob Filner, who called it a waste of time.

Tosdal said it was an "enormous waste of public resources." He said bank officials demanded the prosecution because they didn't like his client's message....

Ronald Bailey blogged on this weird case last week.

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  • Hugh Akston||

    DON'T THOSE PEOPLE CARE ABOUT PROPERTY RIGHTS WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH THEM

  • Seriously?||

    Chalk it up to indifference bud.

  • Almanian!||

    Dusting off the old "indifference" defense. It's a blackboard jungle out there...

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    It was public property; indeed, public property that gets walked on, peed on, and spilt on every hour of every day.

  • Agammamon||

    ". . .that his client was engaging in a legal protest and was not maliciously defacing of property."

    OK, I'm glad he got off but couple of things here.

    1. I'm not even certain why protesting would have anything to do with the case - he vandalized *private* property, not some government facility. Being able to legally vandalize private property isn't something that libertarians should be happy about, no matter how much the owners deserve it.

    2. He *could* have faced 13 years, but wasn't *actually* facing 13 years because, you know, sentencing guidelines.

  • sarcasmic||

    Chalk that washes away in the rain hardly qualifies as vandalism.

  • ||

    I was just thinking the same thing.

    And 13 years for drawing with chalk? Holy fuck.

    Why not just make the guy get a bucket of water and a brush and take ten minutes to clean up his mess?

  • Duke||

    Why not just make the guy get a bucket of water and a brush and take ten minutes to clean up his mess?

    Oh, so you’re soft on crime Suthenboy?!

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm sure that would qualify as cruel and unusual punishment, while being subjected to random beatings and acts of sodomy while locked in a cage is not.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Maybe he's one of them preverts that would get off on scrubbing sidewalks.

  • crazyfingers||

    LOL at Bank of America being remotely "private". The only reason it exists as it does is because of stolen taxpayer money.

  • Sevo||

    "1. I'm not even certain why protesting would have anything to do with the case - he vandalized *private* property, not some government facility. Being able to legally vandalize private property isn't something that libertarians should be happy about, no matter how much the owners deserve it."

    Pretty sure it was the sidewalk; public property, but I'm not sure that makes any difference.
    I agree it is vandalism, and the proper punishment is a bucket of water, soap and a scrub brush. And his time.
    He made his statement, now he can clean it up.
    --------------------------
    "2. He *could* have faced 13 years, but wasn't *actually* facing 13 years because, you know, sentencing guidelines."

    Not going for this. This is one of those 'bow properly to the authorities and we won't use all our weapons on you'.
    Nope; soap, water, brush and time.

  • anon||

    But Sevo, your punishment would require the judge, prosecutor, jury and police force to utilize common sense. I think we can both see your error.

  • Sevo||

    anon,
    Looks like the jury figered it out. The cops didn't get to shoot some kid's puppy, but they got to act like bad boys arresting the guy.
    Are the prosecutors and judges elected in San Diego? They'd get to brag about 'hard on crime' at the next election.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    He was writing on the sidewalk, which is NOT private property. You can vandalize public property too, of course, but we're talking about a surface that people routinely walk on, have their pets urinate on, and spill drinks on all day long. It's not like he wrote on the Statue of Liberty.

  • robc||

    Public sidewalk, not private property, IIRC.

  • GILMORE||

    His messages included "No thanks, big banks" and "Shame on Bank of America."

    Jesus, and IN CHALK no less~? BURN THE ANARCHIST IN THE GUY-FAWLKES FIRE!! THOW HIM IN THE DEEPEST DUNGEON TO BE EATEN BY RATS!!

    Erm. WTF. *13 years in jail?* for scrawling politely-critical messages in chalk?

    I have a vague recollection of when it used to seem like "America the Free" actually meant something. Unfortunately it required a looming threat of global communist oppression to make it appear tangible. Now... we ARE the looming threat of totalitarian oppression. And we are repeatedly assured..."Don't worry... everyone does it! Stop complaining..."

  • Anonymous Coward||

    So a guy writes Occupy Wherever garbage on the sidewalk, in water-soluble chalk, and the reasonable reaction from the state is to threaten him with 13 years imprisonment?

    TOP. MEN.

  • Meerkatx||

    How else do you justify more prisons?

  • Curtisls87||

    Frankly, I don't think the jury thought much of the free speech argument. I think they more or less agreed with the Mayor in that this was a tremendous waste of time and so went with the not guilty verdict. In a sense, they told the prosecutors, FYTY!

  • mr lizard||

    Im surprised there aren't 12 swat team warrants being carried out tonight. I'm sure shooting someone's puppy will assuage the Overlords frustration.

  • Duke||

    Thirteen years for vandalism with chalk should teach all of you that federalism is never a panacea. To be fair, I also blame one man, one vote, women voters, people who don’t own property being allowed to vote, people who can’t pass a polling test being able to vote, lawyers, trial lawyers, legislators, judges and people who aspire to be lawyers, legislators or judges.

  • Harvard||

    Yeah, and the queers and the chinamen. You can never trust a chinaman, they don't expose a lot of eye.

  • anon||

    Seriously though, they're all pretty lucky this guy didn't just show up at court with an AR-15 and start blasting, because it's about the response this threat warranted.

  • fried wylie||

    And 13 years, what the fuck

    I think this points out that our justice system needs to incorporate non-linear sentencing.

    I'll invite others to produce the appropriate formula for sentencing this guy had he lost the case. Every charge would like require its own equation.

  • Almanian!||

    I'm trying to imagine the sentence for Michael Bay's existence and "body of work".

    The horror! The horror....

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    If you do that, then it encourages people to committ the same crime again once they've already done it once.

  • Xenocles||

    The proper sentencing is one hour - maybe two - of community service assessed strictly as a civil penalty. If that can't be done then he should not be found guilty of any criminal offense.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    And once again, Reason gets lippy with the cops/prosecutors without much in the way of ire at BoA, which is the clear instigator here.

  • The Fatman||

    Yes, but the cops and prosecutor should have told BOA to pound sand. Those scum sucking shit-stains ran with this prosecution. They should be tarred and feathered then left to die in the desert.

  • JSebastian||

    How is it that the phrase "Long live Edward Snowden" appears in the graffiti even though this occurred last year before Snowden was even working for the NSA?

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