Bank Of America Chalk Protester Found 'Not Guilty'

On Monday, a jury acquitted Jeff Olson of all charges related to the anti-bank messages he wrote with chalk on the sidewalks outside of three Bank of America branches in San Diego. Olson faced up to 13 years in jail for the misdemeanor charges.


Olson said he was relieved by the jury's decision. He said he had a hard time dealing with the fact that he was charged with vandalism.

"It's shocking, it's really shocking," Olson told reporters. "I never thought in a million years that using washable sidewalk chalk on a city sidewalk could be considered vandalism. That was unfathomable to me."

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.

The LAT's has more:

Olson, who said he was inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, never denied writing the slogans.

One slogan said, "No thanks, big banks." Another, "Shame on Bank of America." And in yet another, the bank was portrayed as an octopus grabbing at cash with its tentacles.

"It's chalk," Filner told reporters last week in an exasperated tone. "It's water-soluble chalk. They were political slogans."

But courts have held that graffiti remains illegal even if it can be easily washed off, Goldsmith said.

That the Bank of America contacted the city attorney's office to reportedly urge prosecution has become part of the dispute.

Not that there was any doubt as to who is calling the shots here in corporate America...


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service (revised 3/17/2016) for information on our posting policy.