Jeff Olson, the San Diego (SD) anti-big bank public sidewalk protestor, has been acquitted of all 13 counts by a jury of his peers. As detailed over the past four days on BuzzFlash at Truthout, Olson had used water soluble chalk to write messages that warned of the powers of big banks.
Bank of America pushed for the prosecution of Olson on vandalism charges for writing his First Amendment opinions on public sidewalks (and in one case on Bank of America pavement). In fact the elected conservative SD City Attorney, Jan Goldsmith, didn’t even initiate charges against Olson until months after he wrote in chalk on sidewalks in front of three Bank of America branches in SD. It was only after the local security officer for Bank of America relentlessly prodded the City Attorney’s office that Olson was charged with the 13 counts of vandalism.
As SD ABC 10 News reported the afternoon of July 1st:
Jurors have acquitted a 40-year-old man accused of using sidewalk chalk to write protest messages in front of three local banks.
The case received national attention, focusing on the rights of someone to protest in public against repeated impositions on bank personnel.
Jeffrey David Olson was found not guilty on all 13 counts against him. He faced 13 years in prison if jurors had convicted him of all counts and sentenced on each one consecutively….
“His purpose was not malicious. His purpose was to inform,” Tosdal said of his client.
Olson has not denied that he scrawled anti-bank messages and artwork outside the banks last year. His messages included “No thanks, big banks” and “Shame on Bank of America.”
The prosecution of Olson has brought condemnation of the City Attorney’s Office from Mayor Bob Filner, who called it a waste of time.
According to Dorian Hargrove of the San Diego Reader, in a phone call to BuzzFlash at Truthout, presiding Judge Howard Shore condemned the media after the acquittal for sensationalizing the case. Five city attorneys were present for the verdict, which was a rebuke of City Attorney’s Jan Goldmith’s pro-bank, anti-Occupy protestor prosecutorial bias.
The Bank of America should likely be on trial on federal charges instead of pulling the strings on a vengeful and petty prosecution that wasted the taxpayer dollars of San Diego residents.
A BuzzFlash at Truthout reader wrote a ballad in Jeff Olson’s honor.
So take a look by clicking here. This one’s for justice done.
Chalk this up to a rare defeat for the bank too big to fail emblazoned with our nation’s name: The Bank of America.
Read more on the chalk sidewalk protestor vs. the Bank of America on Buzzflash at Truthout:
(Photo: Rainforest Action Network)
(Also thanks to Laura Bruno for pointing out the message, see link.)