Man Tried for Chalk Drawings Found Not Guilty

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Protestors chalked the sidewalk outside the Hall of Justice Saturday. They feel Jeff Olson's (left corner) free speech rights were violated when he was charged with vandalism for writing protest messages in chalk outside banks.

    The man accused of vandalism for drawing with chalk outside banks has been found not guilty on all charges.

    A jury returned its verdict in the case against Jeff Olson Monday.

    The city charged Olson with vandalism after writing anti-Wall Street messages in chalk on public sidewalks and streets in front of a bank.

    Olson said he was relieved by the jury’s decision.

    “It feels really good to know that the people of San Diego, represented by the jury, are on my side,” Olson said after the verdict was read.

    “I never thought in a million years that using washable sidewalk chalk on a city sidewalk could be considered vandalism,” he said.

    The defendant claimed he faced multiple years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines, but the maximum possible sentence was never revealed.

    "Our prosecutors never treated this case as anything more than a graffiti case," said a statement from the city attorney's office. "As with most graffiti cases, Mr. Olson was offered reduction to an infraction after completing volunteer work service cleaning up graffiti. His refusal of that offer resulted in the trial and his successful defense."

    Olson's supporters staged a "Chalk-u-py" protest last Saturday. They wrote messages of support in chalk outside the Hall of Justice.

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