SAN DIEGO, CA -- A man faces up to 13 years behind bars, plus thousands of dollars in fines, for writing protest messages on public sidewalks using chalk.
"Always on city sidewalks, washable chalk, never crude messages, never vulgar, clearly topical," said Jeff Olson.
The city calls it "vandalism," and charged him with 13 counts. Some speculate that it was the content of his messages that has made him a target. "I wrote 'No thanks big banks,' I wrote 'Shame on Bank of America,'" he said. "I was encouraging folks to close their accounts at big Wall Street banks to transfer their money local nonprofit, community credit unions," said Olson.
To top it off, he is prohibited from arguing in court that his messages were protected free speech. Judge Shore granted the city attorney's motion to prohibit Olson's attorney Tom Tosdal from mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial.