Chalking Vandal Acquitted in San Diego

The streets of San Diego may be safe once again for nefarious chalking after a jury acquitted a local man accused of 13 counts of vandalism for scrawling anti-bank messages on sidewalks.
July 5, 2013, 9am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"The San Diego sidewalk chalk protester whose markings outside three Bank of America branches led to prosecution on 13 misdemeanor counts was found not guilty Monday on all charges," reports Trent Seibert. "The prosecution of Jeff Olson by City Attorney Jan Goldsmith’s office became a national sensation and was the subject of a “Chalk-U-py” protest in San Diego over the weekend."

"Olson theoretically faced jail time of 1 year and a fine of $1,000 for each count if convicted," notes Seibert. "The idea of 13 years in custody was a potential penalty widely mocked in the national media, even though prosecutors said incarceration of any sort is rare in vandalism cases, nevermind anything over a year."

The case may seem extreme, but a Mother Jones article that appeared last year noted that: "Over the past five years, at least 50 people in 17 American cities have run afoul of authorities for coloring things with chalk."



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Published on Monday, July 1, 2013 in San Diego Union-Tribune
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