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Subject: The case of the terrible sidewalk chalk rss

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Chris R.
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The case of the terrible sidewalk chalk

A new mystery story? No, crazy happenings in San Diego.

"The First Amendment has no place in Superior Court Judge Howard M. Shore's courtroom, not when it comes to vandalism with -- water soluble chalk."

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/news-ticker/2013/jun/2...

If convicted, Mr. Olson could spend up to 13 years in jail and be forced to pay the bank $13,000 in restitution.

Olson described the writing as being "always on city sidewalks, washable chalk, never crude messages, never vulgar..."

A judge can just take away a person's First Amendment rights and place a gag order on the case -- just because he feels like it? The judge, the city attorney, and the bank look foolish enough already.

It was merely a protest in favor of credit unions.

"I wrote, 'No thanks big banks.' I wrote, 'Shame on Bank of America.' If I had drawn a little girl's hopscotch squares on the street, we wouldn't be here today."

"We prosecute vandalism and theft cases regardless of who the perpetrator or victim might be." -- Jan Goldsmith, city attorney

Once again, it was chalk -- a special type of chalk designed for sidewalks and driveways. It was simply a temporary message. It wasn't even the burning of a flag or harassing people on the street with loud noises and leaflets.

"I hope that (City Attorney) Jan Goldsmith reviews the First Amendment of the Constitution and remembers that free speech is protected; just because you don't like what it says, doesn't mean you can't do it." -- Mr. Olson

"Judge Shore, in essence, warned the mayor of San Diego, who happens to be a Democrat in a traditionally conservative city, to keep his comments to himself, and would likely have issued a gag order on the mayor if Judge Shore were able. ... Olson claims that one of the BOA officials told him it cost $6000 to clean up his chalk messages. If that's the case, the BOA is as bad at managing sidewalk chalk drawing clean-up as it is the nation's money. It should have just used a hose to water down the sidewalks (which are public), not clean them off with $20 dollar bills."

http://truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/item/18058-san-die...

You're wasting government money and the time of several jury members for this nonsense? Go fight some real crime.

The more you restrict freedom of expression, the crazier the results will be.
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Boaty McBoatface
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So he was advocating for something by defacing the public street (and a commercial rival of the people outside whose property he was defacing)? Whilst I agree with his views about banks I do not agree that he should be protected by some over extension of freedom of speech. If he wanted to protest there are ways he could have done it (and did) that did not involve defacement of the public street. This is an issue of (OK, temporary, but still) vandalism. He should get a fine and a warning (and anything else is OTT), but he should not get off scot free
 
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slatersteven wrote:
So he was advocating for something by defacing the public street (and a commercial rival of the people outside whose property he was defacing)? Whilst I agree with his views about banks I do not agree that he should be protected by some over extension of freedom of speech. If he wanted to protest there are ways he could have done it (and did) that did not involve defacement of the public street. This is an issue of (OK, temporary, but still) vandalism. He should get a fine and a warning (and anything else is OTT), but he should not get off scot free
We Americans like our free speech, and I think he should at least have been able to argue it. I doubt there are too many other cases on the books where sidewalk chalk drawings were considered vandalism. Were it a more permanent substance, then I can understand the vandalism charge. However, if people are free to draw hopscotch on public sidewalks, he should be able to write words on those same sidewalks.
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Whoshim wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
So he was advocating for something by defacing the public street (and a commercial rival of the people outside whose property he was defacing)? Whilst I agree with his views about banks I do not agree that he should be protected by some over extension of freedom of speech. If he wanted to protest there are ways he could have done it (and did) that did not involve defacement of the public street. This is an issue of (OK, temporary, but still) vandalism. He should get a fine and a warning (and anything else is OTT), but he should not get off scot free
We Americans like our free speech, and I think he should at least have been able to argue it. I doubt there are too many other cases on the books where sidewalk chalk drawings were considered vandalism. Were it a more permanent substance, then I can understand the vandalism charge. However, if people are free to draw hopscotch on public sidewalks, he should be able to write words on those same sidewalks.
http://host.madison.com/news/local/crime_and_courts/chalk-dr..., http://jonathanturley.org/2013/06/28/the-chalk-menace-pennsy..., http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/12/nyregion/street-muralist-m... so this is not unique. Also it seems that, yes in some places you will be arrested for drawing on the streets (in chalk). Just because it's writing does not make it any less vandalism then a mural or whales.
 
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Whoshim wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
So he was advocating for something by defacing the public street (and a commercial rival of the people outside whose property he was defacing)? Whilst I agree with his views about banks I do not agree that he should be protected by some over extension of freedom of speech. If he wanted to protest there are ways he could have done it (and did) that did not involve defacement of the public street. This is an issue of (OK, temporary, but still) vandalism. He should get a fine and a warning (and anything else is OTT), but he should not get off scot free
We Americans like our free speech, and I think he should at least have been able to argue it. I doubt there are too many other cases on the books where sidewalk chalk drawings were considered vandalism. Were it a more permanent substance, then I can understand the vandalism charge. However, if people are free to draw hopscotch on public sidewalks, he should be able to write words on those same sidewalks.
It's more widespread than you might think. Students at the college I work at are fined for cleanup if they side-walk chalk the campus without getting prior authorization. What you can't put blinders on about is the content. A protest against banks, a dead fetus decrying abortions, a misquote from the bible damning gays to hell. The state has to treat them the same, and has to clean them up ASAP in all cases. That stuff does come up but it takes days on its own.

I think the upper-numbers in the case are also a big of a boogeyman. Likely you will see him fined damages, with perhaps a small punitive addition if he was warned previously.
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did did bank of america spend that money to clean something they didnt own?


id like to see an itemized bill
 
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Of course this is a more serious offence in San Diego than it would be here. Here it'll rain and wash it away within days. But a conditional discharge where the condition is you go and wash it off and don't do it again would seem a fitting level of response.
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Shadrach wrote:
Whoshim wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
So he was advocating for something by defacing the public street (and a commercial rival of the people outside whose property he was defacing)? Whilst I agree with his views about banks I do not agree that he should be protected by some over extension of freedom of speech. If he wanted to protest there are ways he could have done it (and did) that did not involve defacement of the public street. This is an issue of (OK, temporary, but still) vandalism. He should get a fine and a warning (and anything else is OTT), but he should not get off scot free
We Americans like our free speech, and I think he should at least have been able to argue it. I doubt there are too many other cases on the books where sidewalk chalk drawings were considered vandalism. Were it a more permanent substance, then I can understand the vandalism charge. However, if people are free to draw hopscotch on public sidewalks, he should be able to write words on those same sidewalks.
It's more widespread than you might think. Students at the college I work at are fined for cleanup if they side-walk chalk the campus without getting prior authorization. What you can't put blinders on about is the content. A protest against banks, a dead fetus decrying abortions, a misquote from the bible damning gays to hell. The state has to treat them the same, and has to clean them up ASAP in all cases. That stuff does come up but it takes days on its own.

I think the upper-numbers in the case are also a big of a boogeyman. Likely you will see him fined damages, with perhaps a small punitive addition if he was warned previously.
But overcharging is a huge problem. Repressing free speech by threatening draconian jail sentences even if in practice it's "just a threat" is still a problem.

The reality is that if a neighbor kid wrote "RYAN SUCKS" on my driveway in chalk, the cops wouldn't arrest and the DA wouldn't prosecute. I would almost certainly be told to stop wasting police time and hose that shit off myself. This is corporate bullying with the color of state support. Very, very, very bad sign IMO.
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San Diego City Attorney wrote:
1. This is a graffiti case where the defendant is alleged to have engaged in the conduct on 13 different occasions. The trial judge has already held that, under California law, it is still graffiti even if the material can be removed with water. Most graffiti can be removed. Also, the judge and a different pre-trial judge held that the First Amendment is not a defense to vandalism/graffiti.

2. The defense is trying to make this case into a political statement, which it is not. This is just one of some 20,000 criminal cases that are referred to us annually by the police department. We have prosecutors who decide whether to issue cases. They are professionals. The City Attorney was not involved in deciding whether to issue this case as is typical practice in prosecution offices for most cases. He hadn't heard of this case until it was in the media.

3. The defense is whipping up hysteria about the prospect of 13 years in custody. This is not a 13 year custody case. It is a standard graffiti case compounded by the fact that the defendant is alleged to have done it on 13 separate occasions. Because there were 13 different occasions when the defendant allegedly engaged in the conduct, the law requires them to be set out separately in the complaint. This increases the maximum sentence, but it still is a graffiti case and nothing more. The courts routinely hear graffiti cases and handle them appropriately using judicial discretion.

4. It is not unusual for victims to contact police or prosecutors about a case. Our prosecutors are trained to focus only on their ethical standards in deciding whether to file a case.

5. We prosecute vandalism and theft cases regardless of who the perpetrator or victim might be. We don't decide, for example, based upon whether we like or dislike banks. That would be wrong under the law and such a practice by law enforcement would change our society in very damaging ways.
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rylfrazier wrote:
Shadrach wrote:
Whoshim wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
So he was advocating for something by defacing the public street (and a commercial rival of the people outside whose property he was defacing)? Whilst I agree with his views about banks I do not agree that he should be protected by some over extension of freedom of speech. If he wanted to protest there are ways he could have done it (and did) that did not involve defacement of the public street. This is an issue of (OK, temporary, but still) vandalism. He should get a fine and a warning (and anything else is OTT), but he should not get off scot free
We Americans like our free speech, and I think he should at least have been able to argue it. I doubt there are too many other cases on the books where sidewalk chalk drawings were considered vandalism. Were it a more permanent substance, then I can understand the vandalism charge. However, if people are free to draw hopscotch on public sidewalks, he should be able to write words on those same sidewalks.
It's more widespread than you might think. Students at the college I work at are fined for cleanup if they side-walk chalk the campus without getting prior authorization. What you can't put blinders on about is the content. A protest against banks, a dead fetus decrying abortions, a misquote from the bible damning gays to hell. The state has to treat them the same, and has to clean them up ASAP in all cases. That stuff does come up but it takes days on its own.

I think the upper-numbers in the case are also a big of a boogeyman. Likely you will see him fined damages, with perhaps a small punitive addition if he was warned previously.

But overcharging is a huge problem. Repressing free speech by threatening draconian jail sentences even if in practice it's "just a threat" is still a problem.

The reality is that if a neighbor kid wrote "RYAN SUCKS" on my driveway in chalk, the cops wouldn't arrest and the DA wouldn't prosecute. I would almost certainly be told to stop wasting police time and hose that shit off myself. This is corporate bullying with the color of state support. Very, very, very bad sign IMO.
The law generally treats crimes of minors differently than adults, 'children' rarely, if ever, are treated the same as an adult. Saying that a child wouldn't be prosecuted for drawing a hop scotch game on the sidewalk is completely irrelevant.

Just because you have a right to free speech, it doesn't give you the right to deface the property of others. While it prevents the government from censoring your speech, it doesn't prevent a private entity from acting to censor your speech. The vandalism statute is a content neutral statute, this isn't a free speech issue.
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The law is neutral, enforcement is not neutral.

Again, I think that an average person trying to have this very marginal crime prosecuted would get zero traction from the police or the DA's office, and their claim of neutrality seems extremely suspect to me. I think we're seeing special justice for special citizens.
 
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rylfrazier wrote:
The law is neutral, enforcement is not neutral.

Again, I think that an average person trying to have this very marginal crime prosecuted would get zero traction from the police or the DA's office, and their claim of neutrality seems extremely suspect to me. I think we're seeing special justice for special citizens.
You did read my links?
 
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rylfrazier wrote:
The law is neutral, enforcement is not neutral.

Again, I think that an average person trying to have this very marginal crime prosecuted would get zero traction from the police or the DA's office, and their claim of neutrality seems extremely suspect to me. I think we're seeing special justice for special citizens.
Do you have any evidence that a business owner has asked the DA to prosecute similar offenders but the DA refused to do so?

My guess would be that the majority of instances of a business bringing this to the DAs attention are handled by the defendant pleading to something long before it ever reaches trial. This guy is taking it to trial because he wants to make a political statement. You also have to take into account that this guy apparently did this 13 separate times. If a random person commits a single act of vandalism/graffiti it likely isn't worth the business, the DA or the polices time, but when the same person repeatedly does the same thing, then it is much more likely to be prosecuted.

This isn't a case of selective prosecution by race, gender, or anything else that would be suspect. This isn't being selectively prosecuted anymore or any less than any other crimes.
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jmilum wrote:
San Diego City Attorney wrote:
1. This is a graffiti case where the defendant is alleged to have engaged in the conduct on 13 different occasions. The trial judge has already held that, under California law, it is still graffiti even if the material can be removed with water. Most graffiti can be removed. Also, the judge and a different pre-trial judge held that the First Amendment is not a defense to vandalism/graffiti.

2. The defense is trying to make this case into a political statement, which it is not. This is just one of some 20,000 criminal cases that are referred to us annually by the police department. We have prosecutors who decide whether to issue cases. They are professionals. The City Attorney was not involved in deciding whether to issue this case as is typical practice in prosecution offices for most cases. He hadn't heard of this case until it was in the media.

3. The defense is whipping up hysteria about the prospect of 13 years in custody. This is not a 13 year custody case. It is a standard graffiti case compounded by the fact that the defendant is alleged to have done it on 13 separate occasions. Because there were 13 different occasions when the defendant allegedly engaged in the conduct, the law requires them to be set out separately in the complaint. This increases the maximum sentence, but it still is a graffiti case and nothing more. The courts routinely hear graffiti cases and handle them appropriately using judicial discretion.

4. It is not unusual for victims to contact police or prosecutors about a case. Our prosecutors are trained to focus only on their ethical standards in deciding whether to file a case.

5. We prosecute vandalism and theft cases regardless of who the perpetrator or victim might be. We don't decide, for example, based upon whether we like or dislike banks. That would be wrong under the law and such a practice by law enforcement would change our society in very damaging ways.
You know, I so didn't expect there to be a rational straightforward explanation of the details behind the story in this thread, and that it ends up being something not at all like the first post. That never happens in these kind of threads. Ever.

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fenners wrote:
jmilum wrote:
San Diego City Attorney wrote:
1. This is a graffiti case where the defendant is alleged to have engaged in the conduct on 13 different occasions. The trial judge has already held that, under California law, it is still graffiti even if the material can be removed with water. Most graffiti can be removed. Also, the judge and a different pre-trial judge held that the First Amendment is not a defense to vandalism/graffiti.

2. The defense is trying to make this case into a political statement, which it is not. This is just one of some 20,000 criminal cases that are referred to us annually by the police department. We have prosecutors who decide whether to issue cases. They are professionals. The City Attorney was not involved in deciding whether to issue this case as is typical practice in prosecution offices for most cases. He hadn't heard of this case until it was in the media.

3. The defense is whipping up hysteria about the prospect of 13 years in custody. This is not a 13 year custody case. It is a standard graffiti case compounded by the fact that the defendant is alleged to have done it on 13 separate occasions. Because there were 13 different occasions when the defendant allegedly engaged in the conduct, the law requires them to be set out separately in the complaint. This increases the maximum sentence, but it still is a graffiti case and nothing more. The courts routinely hear graffiti cases and handle them appropriately using judicial discretion.

4. It is not unusual for victims to contact police or prosecutors about a case. Our prosecutors are trained to focus only on their ethical standards in deciding whether to file a case.

5. We prosecute vandalism and theft cases regardless of who the perpetrator or victim might be. We don't decide, for example, based upon whether we like or dislike banks. That would be wrong under the law and such a practice by law enforcement would change our society in very damaging ways.
You know, I so didn't expect there to be a rational straightforward explanation of the details behind the story in this thread, and that it ends up being something not at all like the first post. That never happens in these kind of threads. Ever.

I blame Nobummer.
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You're trying REALLY hard on this one. In fact you're all over the forum lately with these. Are you bucking to get into one of those shady street conservatism movements?
 
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I want to be the guy who got paid $6,000 to clean up sidewalk chalk.
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Just because something is temporary doesn't make it not vandalism. This is not a free speech issue, IMO, it's a vandalism issue... IFF the party whose sidewalk was vandalized wants to prosecute.
 
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I'm fascinated with these issues.

Take this work, for instance.



This is a famous work by the graffiti artist Banksy. It was painted on the Security Wall in Israel, near Bethlehem.

The political message aside, its great art. Its also graffiti.

Graffiti can be art. Sometimes its just crap.

In general, I'm of the opinion that it comes down to the property owners- if Banksy were to paint something like this on the wall of a house I owned, I'd be happy. If some asshole spray painted "DAR SUCKS!!!!" all over my house, I'd want his balls and take him to court.

The problem is that streets and sidewalks are the property of the state- ie, ALL of us. And since we don't, as a society, have a really good and clear consensus on how to treat grafitti in common areas, we get some fuzzy issues like this.

Personally, I think that if there is to be an ordinance in place to control graffiti, it should be used to make people aware that anything they do on a sidewalk is temporary, and the more obnoxious/permanent they make something, the more likely its going to go away. But short of actually damaging property, I don't think that graffiti on a sidewalk should result in people going to jail. Fine, maybe, if the graffiti is difficult to remove.

Darilian
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As an attorney I don't say this often but thank god for the jury system:

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/07/01/activist-found-not-gui...

We need a little bit of sanity regarding the right to dissent and the enforcement of the laws that are meant to, in the end, protect the citizenry, not repress them.
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Darilian wrote:
This is a famous work by the graffiti artist Banksy. It was painted on the Security Wall in Israel, near Bethlehem.

The political message aside, its great art. Its also graffiti.
correction: banksy is great kitsch, not great art
 
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The verdict is acquittal:

http://www.cutimes.com/2013/07/02/anti-bank-graffiti-artist-...
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So if an adult sets up a game of 4 squares at a big bank, another adult and 2 kids play that game, the bank washes it off with a few dollars worth of water, who has to pay what amount?

Also Banksy is awesome.
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WretchedSpawn wrote:
Also Banksy is awesome.
i dont think an artist who displays only overt political messages has ever been called awesome~ great/cool kitsch yeah but not art
 
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