Local man found not guilty in chalk vandalism case

Jeffrey Olson not guilty of all 13 charges

SAN DIEGO – A 40-year-old man was acquitted Monday of 13 misdemeanor vandalism charges that stemmed from protest messages he wrote in chalk in front of three Bank of America branches in San Diego.

Jeffrey David Olson’s attorney argued during the trial — which garnered national attention — that his client was engaging in a legal protest and was not maliciously defacing of property.

Defense attorney Tom Tosdal argued that vandalism law required jurors to find something was “maliciously defaced.”

“His purpose was not malicious. His purpose was to inform,” Tosdal said of his client.

Olson did not deny that he scrawled the anti-bank messages and artwork outside the banks between April and August of last year. The messages included “No thanks, big banks” and “Shame on Bank of America.”

Olson said he started his message campaign because big “Wall Street banks nearly drove our economy into the ditch.”

“I realized that, there was basically a criminal racket operating on my block, and I didn’t find that acceptable,” Olson said after Monday’s verdict.

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