Originally published July 2 2013
Man facing 13 years in prison for criticizing banks; judge bars any mention of First Amendment in his defense
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) "Insanity" is a term that best describes the large and growing American Nanny State, but there are varying degrees of insanity within it. For example, Nanny State insanity is compounded in states - say, California for instance - where unrestrained progressive liberalism has so influenced the lawmaking process that it completely confounds reasoned outside observers.
Take the case of San Diego resident Jeff Olson: He is currently being prosecuted for writing anti-big bank messages on sidewalks in chalk. If convicted, according to the San Diego Reader, he faces an astounding 13 years in jail for what is essentially the exercise of his First Amendment rights.
Meanwhile, southern California remains a portal for illegal immigrants, who are set to become our country's newest citizens if Congress, President Obama and big business interests get their way.
San Diego is a First Amendment-free zoneAccording to the Reader:
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. ...
On one side sat Jeff Olson, the 40-year-old political activist who protested against the bailout of the big banks early last year. On the other side was Deputy City Attorney Paige Hazard and law student and city attorney employee William Tanoury...
Judge Shore granted Hazard's motion to prohibit Olson's attorney Tom Tosdal from mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial.
"The State's Vandalism Statute does not mention First Amendment rights," Shore lectured.
No, but the U.S. Constitution does, though apparently Shore believes state law trumps that.
"Oh my gosh," an exasperated - and worried - Olson said, exiting the courtroom, according to the Reader. "I can't believe this is happening."
Neither can Tosdal, who said, "I've never heard that before, that a court can prohibit an argument of First Amendment rights."
Olson faces 13 counts of vandalism which carry a potential 13-year jail term and a $13,000 fine, if convicted.
In an interview with San Diego's ABC affiliate, KGTV, Olson - a former staffer for a U.S. senator from Washington state - said, "Free speech is protected; just because you don't like what it says doesn't mean that you can't do it. If I had drawn a little girl's hopscotch squares on the street, we wouldn't be here today."
According to various reports Olson became involved in political activism and took up with the Occupy Wall Street movement, which sparked his chalk campaign in 2011.
"During one protest outside of a Bank of America branch, they drew the ire of Darell Freeman, vice president of Bank of America's Global Corporate Security, who accused them of running a business with their demonstration," the Huffington Post reported.
Some chalk uses in public okayOlson then began to show his opposition to big banks by using chalk drawings outside various Bank of America branches. His actions were apparently captured by bank security cameras; eventually his actions earned him a call from San Diego's Gang Unit in August 2012, when he stopped using chalk to protest.
The Reader said Freeman continued to pressure city attorneys to charge Olson; he finally agreed to do so in April.
City attorney Hazard believes that some public uses of chalk are okay - just not Olson's use.
"The People do not fear that this reading of [the appropriate vandalism statute] will make criminals of every child using chalk," wrote in court documents filed in the case. "Chalk festivals may still be permitted. Kids acting without malice may still engage in their art. Circumventing the rules, without permission, under the color of night, and now waiving a banner of the First Amendment, does not negate the fact that defacement occurred, a private business suffered real and substantial monetary damages, and Defendant is responsible."
All hail, the Nanny State - deciding what is right and what is wrong for us, the lowly subjects. Welcome to post-constitutional America, where statism is the new religion.
Sources for this article include:
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