San Diego City Attorneys Attempt To Give A Man 13 Years For Criticizing Bank Of America

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How much time do you think you could get for writing anti-bank messages on a sidewalk? Jeff Olson, a 40-year-old man who is being prosecuted for just that, is facing 13 years in jail and a $13,000 fine.

Over the course of about two years the man protested outside of a local Bank of America branch, sometimes using sidewalk chalk to leave behind scribbled slogans such as “Stop big banks” and “Stop Bank Blight.com.”

According to a damning report via the San Diego Reader:

Jan Goldsmith’s job as City Attorney is to represent the City of San Diego. In addition, it appears as if his office is also fully prepared to stand up for the little…rather, the big banks.

On Tuesday, the City Attorney’s Office will make their case for prosecution of a 40-year-old man for writing anti-bank slogans in water soluble chalk on the sidewalk outside of three Bank of America branches in Mid-City.

This week, North Park resident Jeff Olson will appear in court to fight a charge of 13 counts of misdemeanor vandalism charges for writing protest slogans in chalk from February to August 2012. The charges could send Olson to jail for 13 years and put him on the hook for $13,000 in restitution to the City and to Bank of America.

Olson, a former staffer for a U.S. Senator from Washington, began to get involved in political activism around the time that Occupy Wall Street was in full swing. But for him, sleeping in a tent downtown or singing along to protest songs was not the right strategy.

Furthermore, because Olson is being tried for vandalism for using the water soluble chalk to criticize the bank, Judge Howard Shore, who is presiding over the case, prohibited Olson’s attorney from mentioning the United States’ fundamental First Amendment rights in his client’s defense.

“The State’s Vandalism Statute does not mention First Amendment rights,” ruled Judge Shore on Tuesday.

“I’ve never heard that before, that a court can prohibit an argument of First Amendment rights,” Olson’s attorney Tom Tosdal later said of the judge’s decision.

Bank of America received $45 billion in interest-free loans from the U.S. government in 2008-2009 in a bid to keep it solvent after it made bad investments.

Personal Liberty

Sam Rolley

Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After covering community news and politics, Rolley took a position at Personal Liberty Media Group where could better hone his focus on his true passions: national politics and liberty issues. In his daily columns and reports, Rolley works to help readers understand which lies are perpetuated by the mainstream media and to stay on top of issues ignored by more conventional media outlets.

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  • JRR

    Which national anthem is that I hear playing in my head? Nazi Germany’s – or Russia’s? (I’m not familiar with China’s national anthem.)

  • Jeff

    These are misdemeanors, and stupid ones at that. Nobody goes to jail for 13 years over misdemeanors, so stop with the hyperbole. That being said, it might interest you to know that Jan Goldsmith is a conservative Republican, so don’t try to make this one of your anti-Liberal crusades.

    • JRR

      “Nobody goes to jail for 13 years over misdemeanors, …”

      Tell that to the judge.

      • Jeff

        No need. The federal courts have already told the State Prison System it’s overcrowded and many have to be let out. All kinds of dangerous marijuana smokers and “3rd strike” pizza snatchers. Jail beyond a few days, maybe, for chalk on the sidewalk? Get real.

        • jaybird

          they will let the dangerous prisoner out and put that poor man in. Janet N. (DHS) will do it for spite.

          • Jeff

            Are you as nutty as you sound or do you write for the Onion?

        • independent thinker

          Just because the prisons have been ruled overcrowded does not mean Olson will be one of those released early.

          • Jeff

            Misdemeanants don’t go to prison in the first place. I have no use for the City Attorney, but there’s no way he’s seeking 13 years. 13 days is more likely.

    • ctroop

      He may very well be a registered Republican … maybe even a vocal one … but being willing to put this man in jail for 13 years for the violation of such a stupid and petty misdemeanor fits the profile of the liberal statist bureaucrat to a Tee.

      • Jeff

        Stop with the 13 years already. You’ll win the Nobel Prize in physics before he gets 13 years!

    • jaybird

      Who gives a F what he is , he is wrong and so is the Judge. With what is going on in this country you can’t trust any of them. Bank of America is corrupt, I have their CC only because they bought out the co and issued it but I won’t use it.

    • wavesofgrain

      Because someone in our justice system or congress claims to be a conservative Republican, that does not mean they will behave like one. There are few Republicans/Conservatives that have turned an about face on their party lately, including Justice Roberts. Just make sure Jan does not have one of those accounts in the Vatican Bank along side Roberts, Boehner and Obama.

      • Jeff

        Roberts just voted to gut the Voting Rights Act, the worst decision by the Court in 100 years, and he’s not “conservative” enough for you? Good luck.

  • American Patriot01

    Bank of America? Those b-tards bought out the company I had my mortgage with then mishandled my payments and then foreclosed on my house even though I was not late. 14 years of never missing a payment!! To hell with those pigs. they should not be defended with tax dollars from any community. They are lucky he didn’t fly a plane into their building like that guy did in Kansas? or was it Colorado? I dream of seeing the end of fight club happen for real. Now that would be awesome.

  • rivahmitch

    “Those who make peaceful change impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”…. JFK

    • foxxybey

      Amen and the time is now, I get tired of all the immoral crap that goes on today since obozo became dictator-in-chief.

  • Danny U

    I don’t think that judge (or any judge) has the authority to rule out mention of the first amendment.

  • ctroop

    This bought-and-paid-for-stooge of a judge has created a poster-child-classic template for an appeal. Can’t use the first amendment defense because there is no “mention” of the first amendment in the dumb-sh*t statute that violates it? This is such total Bull-Sh*t! ANYBODY who would be even willing to put a man in jail for 13 years on such a steaming pile of Bull-Sh*t charges deserves anything that happens to them ! ! ! I now truly understand (and agree) why the people of France kept the Guillotine going 24/7 after their revolution. If there is any time at all, I hope somebody there could get these jurors up to snuff on “Jury Nullification.” Of course, civil trials don’t always have juries, but if there is one on that travesty of a trial, and I was on it, I would be holding out for Olson.

  • Judicious

    Bank of America cheated my wife by imposing a penalty when she properly rolled over an IRA to another bank. She protested by withdrawing and closing everything else. BOA then pestered her for weeks as to why she did this. The blood suckers are still at it and Amadeo Giannini is spinning in his grave. I suspect that many of BOA’s (mis)managers should be in jail; instead they got $45B from corrupt government crony capitalists.

    Flag burning is also vandalism, as well as arson; has anybody ever gotten fined $13,000 and 13 years for that? And hasn’t that sort of vandalism been deemed “free speech”? Where’s the equity?

    Jeff Olson may be a boorish pest and maybe deserves a $100 fine for littering. But City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and Judge Howard Shore come across as dolts acting as stooges for BOA. Where is the judicial wisdom here?

    • garygerke

      Although, I have disagreed with our current government over many political things, including shredding the Constitution and Bill of Rights, I have never advocated armed insurrection….until today!

      Our current government, Federal, State, County and City have betrayed their oaths of office to uphold the Constitution of the USA and the individual States. There is a need to resist these tyrants with an armed insurrection in lieu of our representatives upholding their oaths of office.

      This comment is for the NSA, CIA, FBI and any other alphabet agency out there. KISS MY THING!!!!!!!!!!!

      IN THE LONG RUN YOU WILL LOSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • John W

    The judge needs to be charged with criminal stupidity and told that he can not use the first amendment as part of his defense. I think about 26 years ought to be sufficient punishment.

  • Jeff

    Wondered if there were any kickback or payoff to the judge and city attorney by the bank to prosecuted Mr.Olsen

  • Junkki

    Judge should just toss this out instead of wasting taxpayer money on a case like this. Just stupidity at it’s finest.

  • guest

    wow put my granddaughter and before her my children in jail they were always writing with chalk
    the world is upside down the banks get a way with this

  • Linda Turner

    I love it when both conservative and liberal response to an event like this are the same. Both sides can find a lot of fault in the behavior of the “too big to fail” banks. Yet all of corporate America support the Republican agenda. How do you explain that?

    • Alex

      A+ for Linda.

    • wavesofgrain

      “”Yet all of corporate America support the Republican agenda. How do you explain that?”””

      The largest corporate donations went to Obama both times around. They are becoming an arm of Obama. Look at GE, GM, Goldman Sachs. They donated millions to the campaign of Barack H. Obama. McCain’s corporate campaign donations were paltry compared to BHO. Goldman Sachs execs are in on the Cap and Trade scam…which all of BHO/Gore Global Warming scammers are trying to ram down our throats.

    • Judicious

      I suspect that many of BOA’s (mis)managers should be in jail; instead they got $45B in taxpayer money from corrupt government DEMOCRAT crony capitalists.
      D- for Linda.

  • runnindeer

    Was the man on city property or was the sidewalk on the property for the Bank? that would seem to be why he is in trouble either way.

  • real talk 1

    No matter be smart if you want anything done and not get prosecuted ask a illegal to do it for you they are the only one that can get away with it.