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Jury Acquits Man Who Wrote On Sidewalk With Chalk

Sidewalk chalk: A jury ruled Monday they aren't the tools of a criminal.
Mark Wilson
/
Getty Images
Sidewalk chalk: A jury ruled Monday they aren't the tools of a criminal.

Jeffrey Olson faced 13 years in jail for writing on a sidewalk with chalk. But a San Diego jury of two men and 10 women found him not guilty of criminal vandalism.

Olson, 40, was charged with 13 counts of vandalism for expressing his opinions on sidewalks outside three Bank of America branches. His messages, according to Gawker, included:

— "No Thanks, Big Banks"

— "Shame on Bank of America"

As Mark wrote Sunday: "There's no evidence that he wrote anything obscene. His messages could be easily erased. And they don't seem to have upset many, if any, people."

The jury, which began deliberations Friday, took less than five hours to reach its verdict.

"I'm really relieved," Olson said. "It's been an incredibly stressful situation. It feels really good to know that the people of San Diego as represented by the jury are on my side."

His comments were reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Olson's remarks to the newspaper last week during a courtroom break that the trial was "an unconstitutional overreach and a total waste of taxpayer money" resulted in a gag order against him and others involved in the case.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.