Graffiti or 1st amendment?

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Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686
Graffiti or 1st amendment?

Jeff Olson, the Mad Chalker | San Diego Reader

To summarize: A man buys sidewalk chalk and expresses his opinions on the sidewalk in front of a BofA. He is arrested for graffiti and charged with 13 counts of vandalism.

Weeks before the trial was set to begin, Goldsmith offered Olson a plea deal. Goldsmith would drop the case if Olson agreed to give $6000 to Bank of America, give up his license, waive his Fourth Amendment right, and serve three years? probation.
Read more: Jeff Olson, the Mad Chalker (page 3) | San Diego Reader

He opted to go to court. He was acquitted on all 13 charges.

In CA, you can lose your license for up to two years for a conviction of vandalism.
V C Section 13202.6 Driving Privilege Suspension Vandalism

1. Do you think sidewalk chalk is vandalism or freedom of speech.

2. Should a conviction of vandalism result in loss of driving privileges for 2 years?

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1535

I have a hard time seeing sidewalk chalk as graffiti (and I HATE graffiti, it is one of my biggest pet peeves)

I can see vandalism being tied to loss of driving privileges, governments need to have crime deterrents and the jails are overflowing

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

Sidewalk chalk is free speech, and I love the artwork people all over the city do with chalk on sidewalks & buildings. If a business doesn't like it, hose it off, and if you do like something, grab one last look at it before the fog rolls in. But I do agree with losing your driving privileges as a consequence of *real* graffiti and vandalism, which by definition are permanent unauthorized alterations of a private or public space. I'm not sure it works as a deterrent, judging by how much graffiti I see, but it's certainly a reasonable punishment IMHO.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

1. Sidewalk chalk is not graffiti. To me, graffiti is something that maybe be permanent or would require a LOT of work to remove and can also damage property. While this is technically graffiti I think it's going over the top with his charges. Sidewalk chalk washes away with rain, a hose, a cup of water etc.

2. The punishment for graffiti is okay by me.

mom2robbie's picture
Joined: 01/20/07
Posts: 2541

I remember in university the student union giving out sidewalk chalk for us to use to protest tuition hikes. Since sidewalk chalk washes off I have no issues with it.

Curious: are kids that use sidewalk chalk making games etc actually making graffiti? IMO they aren't so why would an adult.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

The maximum penalty for graffiti by chalk should be washing it off.