A man in San Diego could face as many as 13 years behind bars, all for writing on city sidewalks with chalk. Frustrated with the bailout of large banks such as Bank of America, Jeff Olson decided to take it to the streets, writing messages like "No Thanks, Big Banks" outside of three Bank of America locations in the city.
Olson 40, was charged with 13 counts of vandalism after a bank security manager called the police multiple times to report the messages, which are totally washable. The charge is only a misdemeanor, but Olson could face a year behind bars and a $1,000 fine.
Olson has defended himself, saying that his notes are "always on city sidewalks, washable chalk, never crude messages, never vulgar, clearly topical." The First Amendment protects free speech, but judge Howard shore won't allow Olson to use that as a defense because the trial will be about vandalism and whether he's guilty of it.
However, San Diego mayor Bob Filner asked the city council president to end the case because it's wasting taxpayers dollars. Shore placed a gag order on the case, forbidding Olson from speaking to the media, but killed the idea that he would serve serious jail time.