Don’t mess with the banks. That’s the message coming out of a courtroom in San Diego, California, after a man was arrested for writing anti-bank messages outside the Bank of America. Jeff Olsen is charged with 13 counts of vandalism and faces time in prison for expressing his opinion on a public sidewalk.
“I wrote ‘No thanks big banks,’ I wrote ‘Shame on Bank of America,’” Olsen told CBS8 in San Diego. “Always on city sidewalks, washable chalk, never crude messages, never vulgar, clearly topical,” he added.
The San Diego city attorney decided to prosecute Olsen after numerous complaints about the anti-bank messages were sent in an email from a high ranking bank security manager.
Olsen’s attorney argued that his client’s First Amendment right to free speech will be violated if he is convicted on the vandalism charge. Judge Howard Shore said the messages directed at the banking industry have nothing to do with the First Amendment. “In light of the fact that it’s clear in the case law, vandalism is not a legitimate exercise of free speech rights. It really is irrelevant what the message is, or content is,” the judge said.
The absurd case reveals just how far the state will go to prevent criticism of a corporate partner in crime. Children are not arrested for drawing on sidewalks with washable chalk and citizens putting up signs for garage sales or private business in the public commons are rarely arrested and prosecuted. Clearly, the Olsen case is political in nature. It is a ham-fisted response by government in reaction to criticism of the bankster elite and their predatory behavior.
In another case with political overtone, prosecutors in West Virginia have requested a court-imposed gag order to prevent a father and his 14-year old son from talking to the media. The 14-year old, Jared Marcum, was arrested for wearing a National Rifle Association t-shirt to school two weeks ago. The eight grader was charged with obstructing an officer and faces a $500 fine and up to a year in jail.
The arresting cop did not accuse the teen of making any threats or acting violently. He did say, however, that Marcum hindered his ability to carry out his duties by talking.
Note: Alex briefly entertained the prospect of a July 4th sidewalk chalk revolt on today’s broadcast. He suggested people should, at their own peril, exercise their First Amendment rights by using water-soluble sidewalk chalk to spread the message of liberty and warn others of encroaching tyranny.