Californian Jeff Olson Faces 13 Years In Jail For Writing Anti-Wall Street Messages In Chalk

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Huffington Post has the headline, and an ABC station in San Diego has the story: Jeff Olson, a California man, wrote sidewalk messages last year that derided Bank of America, and he’s currently in trial, facing 13 years of jail and $13,000 in restitution fees.

Oh, and the messages were written in water-soluble chalk. But Bank of America claims that it cost them $6,000 to clean them up.

It’s no wonder, then, that Olson said, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe this is happening” as he left the courtroom.

It’s a surreal story, especially following last week’s revelations six former Bank of America employees admitted that the bank systematically lied to customers in order to foreclose on them. This way bank employees could get bonuses in the form of cash and gift cards.

So compare the actions talked about in this former employee’s court statement,

“I witnessed employees and managers change and falsify information in the systems of record, and remove documents from homeowners’ files to make the account appear ineligible for a loan modification.”

To the actions of Jeff Olson, who protested his ire about Bank of America in water-soluble chalk.

It’s as though justice has been rendered completely meaningless.

The one silver-lining to this whole ordeal, if there is one, is that this type of extreme injustice (13 years of jail!) has been known to ignite protests, and if Bank of America is good for anything, it’s good for protesting.

Update: We just found this article from the San Diego Reader, which gives the fullest account of the story so far. According to the story, Olson had tried several methods (all peaceful) to protest the actions of the banks when he discovered the idea of writing anti-big bank phrases on the sidewalk with chalk. He’d arrive early in the morning for a few days each week and write simple lines like “stop big banks.” Apparently, this kind of activity could get you 13 years behind bars in San Diego. Eesh.

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37 comments on “Californian Jeff Olson Faces 13 Years In Jail For Writing Anti-Wall Street Messages In Chalk
  1. marty rajandran says:

    Hey, good going. In these days, hope you have an affordable, good lawyer….like Wall Street!

  2. Alex Andrews says:

    Was this some sort of privately owned sidewalk? If it was in the public right of way, the bank choosing to clean it up is their own problem. Not to mention 6k for a hose and some water? Give me a break. It is a shame we allow such fascist business’ like BoA to exist. The problem is hardly government, it’s all these plutocratic fascist business’. It’s a shame we don’t take the authors of the constitution seriously when they speak of the need to regulate the private sector.

    • Morgan says:

      Alex, and who is it that sentenced Jeff? And jailed him? Not BoA. It was the government. Right? It is their behavior that is out of line, and so in this case regulating the banks has nothing to do with it.

    • Alex. You say -
      “It is a shame we allow such fascist business’ like BoA to exist.The problem is hardly government, it’s all these plutocratic fascist business’”.

      Dont you see it it, I cannot beleive you dont? Your Government is PAID for by big Business including BOA, who pays Rep/Dem parties the $Millions to fight their ridiculous campaigns? So many are entrenched the Rep/Dem he said she said he said she said Stupid argument - Oh I am Republican, Oh Im Democrat, you are this you are that like bloody children playing tig - when ALL the time they are controlled by the same people. You vote for it you get it….. They are Dishonest to a one!

      • The People own Government and no other private or corporate entity, but nut as individuals but rather as a united voice.

        Nothing changes the direction or proclivity of high ranking Gov decisions that are made in camera, then a united voice raised by the electorate. Democracy is something that is Defended, not merely expected. Our own acquiesce fragments our rights and Fascism prevails.

    • David says:

      It was public sidewalks always. Olson never defaced BofA property.

    • mike says:

      The sidewalk may only be three feet wide. Measure three feet from the road curb then the side walk ends and private property begins. After reading this story if a pigeon crapped on my while I was walking on their property I would sue them.

  3. isabell says:

    The us used to be a nice travel-country.
    But now it’s just a scary & disturbing place…I wouldn’t bring my kids there for hollidays any more.

  4. Les says:

    We live in an upside-down country. It is no longer “We the People…”, it is now We the Corrupt Corporations…”.

  5. Barney Burgis says:

    The laws are only for wage scum like this. Hope he gets the full 13 years. Anyone up for Polo today?

  6. $6000 for chalk clean up. WTF? Does Nestle already own the San Diego water supply…?

  7. Rishiray says:

    These peons … thinking that they live in a world where we’re all equal. Puny humans ….!
    I’m up for Polo today … your estate or mine? Instead of a ball … can we play with a block of gold … it mightn’t roll as well but we’re gazillionaires … we can just buy and make up new rules anyway.

    • Money is worth no more than the accumulation of the debt it represents, if you believe your self worth is anything more, then you’re the Pandemaritic representation of a fool that manifests their own destiny!

      Happy Searching!

  8. Tselote says:

    the more I read about this shit the more and more I am fully convinced this country has gone to shit.

  9. Egypt, Greece, Brazil, where next, the Sheeple and the people are waking up, and about time too.
    For God’s sake, please read up, the NWO of a One World Government is not a myth - This is Corporate Marxism….
    Here I Quote The words of the reviewere of Myra Tanner Weiss’s book.
    “And indeed, what else but monopoly could emerge from the laws of accumulation of capital, as elaborated by Marx”.
    And “until the entire social capital would be united, either in the hands of one single capitalist, or in those of one single corporation,” (Vol. I, Capital, Kerr Edition, p. 689)”. Read it - PLEASE -

  10. Sharon Laakko says:

    This is outrageous! 13 years for writing on a sidewalk??? Child molesters don’t even get that long. Has using chalk become a violent crime, better ban them from the grandkids.

  11. Simon Jester says:

    You guys in the USA try to tell the world that you live in a free country? I am truly laughing out loud at this and very proud that I am Canadian.

    • Roger Lehet says:

      Wake up Simon……take a look at the Alberta Tar sands and what big corporations are doing to our wonderful neighbors up north…….your picture fails as does ours. We need to quit laughing and start uniting. I hope you don’t think you are immune!

    • Tony says:

      I’m Canadian too Simon…and I don’t feel I’m free in Canada. Check the new 2013 budget and when you get to the pages on “bail ins” you may want to reconsider whose running who. By the way, depositor insured accounts in Canada are insured by global banks….just fyi.

  12. Rick says:

    neither the banks or the government have enough common sense to pour piss out of a boot with the instruction on the heel…………or the judge for letting it in he court room…………..

  13. Sky says:

    Don’t mock them, after all Harper has declared that you are an enemy of Canada if you oppose the pipeline for Tar Sands into BC.

  14. Seth says:

    The trial might prove really interesting. A good attorney will ask why the bank spent $13K on removing chalk; who authorized that much money? Does that person have blanket authorization to spend that much money for other things? Show all the discussion about the expense. Why didn’t he just tell a janitor to take a bucket of water and wash it off?

    There’s a principle of law that requires people to minimize damages. Actual damages, at minimized expense, were closer to $10. The other $12,990 is abusive.

  15. Sean says:

    About 4 years ago in Orlando this same case came up The courts found in favor of the chalk writer as it is protected by free speach.

  16. Deb Tyson says:

    All Judges across the country are falling for this abuse. Our Justice system has failed all of us.

  17. I say everyone should go out and wright something on the sidewalk bad about wall street! Maybe someone will pay attention!

  18. Val says:

    what would Jeff Olson do if this was happening to someome else…….protest maybe? Power in numbers

  19. Stan King says:

    Let’s be realistic here. This isn’t a “Big banks vs the Little Guy.” Bank of America pays taxes to the city of San Diego via those branches, and thus enjoys the protections that any business would, whether he is writing “Stop Big Banks” or some kind of hate message in front of a shop that caters to North Park’s gay community. The guy was being a public nuisance, and vandalizing the sidewalks three times a week for six months. If it cost $6K for BoA to clean it up, imagine what it would be if the city government had done it even just once a week?

    The government cannot tacitly endorse vandalism through inaction if Bank of America was able to catch him in the act. Crime is still a crime, even if you happen to agree with the message. The Little Guy has to follow the rules too, otherwise you cannot hold the Big Banks accountable.

    However, what needed to happen was a small fine, and forcing him to clean it up. The inefficiency of the justice system here, to where a drawn out court case was needed to resolve a misdemeanor vandalism charge, instead of an infraction level offense where the punishment fits the crime.

    • Dave Spence says:

      To Stan King: Tsk, Tsk! You’re being logical. The “in” thing is to castigate the big, bad “1%” and glorify the “little guy.” America, you got a love Her.

      • Oh dear, Stan. This kind of “logic” only works if you are dealing with a level playing field and have some sort of recourse to law when the banks (or any corp, for that matter) not only fail, but behave as we are witnessing presently. As for the cost and weight of the sentence - please! This is revenge, not justice.

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