Thursday, June 27, 2013
California Man Faces 13 Years in Prison for Writing on Sidewalks with Chalk
M&F has written a couple recent articles about the way the United States government continues trampling on the rights of citizens and the media. While theorists surmise that his car was chipped, not matter what the explanation, it sure seems strange the circumstances surrounding how Michael Hastings died with the car engine ending 50 feet from the crash site?
But what does this have to do with street art? Everything.
When the rights of Americans begin to get abused by the government itself, we are in grave danger of becoming the police-driven totalitarian state. And when that happens, the punishments for street art get ramped up to ridiculous levels.
Like right now in California. Yesterday, Jeff Olson was formally charged with 13 counts of vandalism for writing in front of San Diego area Bank of America branches with water soluble children's sidewalk chalk. Olson faces 13 years in prison if convicted, which might seem like a real possibility since the judge granted an unprecedented ruling which forbids Olson from "mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial".
What. The. Fuck?
The judge claims that his action to deny freedom of speech is acceptable since 'The State's Vandalism Statute does not mention First Amendment rights.' Hmmm.
If there is a silver lining, it might be that even if convicted, Olson will set a new precedent for the Vandalism Statue in California. Since a judge can not throw out a fundamental Amendment to the Constitution, it is likely that Olson's conviction would get overturned. And that, would hopefully, set a new precedent where Freedom of Speech is assured, even in cases of vandalism.
This is why the Amendments were added to the Constitution, to prevent against abuses of power exactly like these. But if we don't be careful, and if Americans don't demand accountability from our leaders, we might soon find ourselves pitted against a government without these fundamental protections.
Stay up, Jeff Olson. Keep your head up, and just stay up!~
***The above pic is of some political chalk drawing in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement from Toolz***