Wednesday, July 10, 2013

San Diego Chalker

When first i went to school, the very first lesson i learned was:  there are different rules for different people. There is a lot of repetition and review in school. That one lesson was repeatedly demonstrated, and re-inforced.  Schooling is preparation for the outside world. That lesson is continually instructive.

We are innately aware of right and wrong. Back in school, children (pupils) often cry, "that's not fair"; not only when something does not benefit themselves. A good child recognises, and will defend his classmates, for a time. He eventually learns his plea not only can fall on deaf ears, but often on angry wills. He puts himself in jeopardy in speaking out. He learns to be silent, and look the other way. This becomes helpful when he leaves school. There is a power structure in school. Administrators are markedly above teachers, whilst there are teachers that are classroom tyrants (some use the familiar line "I am tough, but fair"), when something (in the eyes of children, at least) is remarkably capriciously onerous, it is the work of administration. Those who gravitate to power, even in a small pond, are wont to overextend and abuse power.
 criminal tools
In San Diego California such an absurd thing has occurred. This time, a jury of his peers saved a man from, possibly years, in prison. A trial began on 26 June, and ended in acquittal on the thirteen charges on the First of July. The supposed crime was chalking messages on public sidewalks, and one private, in front of three Bank of America branches. It should be noted that no banksters were ever charged in the near financial catastrophe that broke in 2008 and led to the largest economic Depression since 1929.

We should know some of the actors in this story: 
  • the defendant, Jeffrey David Olson
  • elected prosecuting attorney, possible mayoral candidate, Jan Goldsmith (do i have to mark R?)
  • presiding judge, Howard Shore (do i have to mark R?)
  • bank security chief, and former San Diego policeman, Darell Freeman
  • Mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner (Democrat)
Some of the alleged 'malicious vandalism' included: "No thanks, big banks", "Shame on Bank of America".

In response to this coming to trial, the mayor's statement was:
This young man is being persecuted for thirteen counts of vandalism stemming from an expression of political protest that involved washable children's chalk on a City sidewalk. It is alleged that he has no previous criminal record. If these assertions are correct, I believe this is a misuse and waste of taxpayer money. It could also be characterized as an abuse of power that infringes on First Amendment particularly when it is arbitrarily applied to some, but not all, similar speech.
This upset the judge. He imposed a gag order on the accused, and the mayor. The prosecutors made a motion to forbid the defense to use such language as: First Amendment, free speech, free expression. The judge agreed.

The bank demanded prosecution. The bank, certainly, had the option to sue in a civil case for damages. Amongst other things, the bank claims it cost $6000 for clean up. I suppose some of my readership may have had bank charges they thought excessive. But in a civil case things about the bank may have been open to discovery, but by using the full power of the state to punish a critic, the bank has the power to deter and crush individuals they find bothersome.

[We are living in an age which used the excuse of Osama bin Laden, and a 'war on terror' to enact measures against civil freedoms. Previous to that there were trade agreements that gave economic entities the power to abrogate laws, including those that protected the public, and the worker. We see government and corporations in league; Mussolini defined that as 'fascism'. Corporations are defining criticism as 'terrorism'. The Supreme Court defined campaign money as free speech. Romney defined corporations as people.]

So the bank had their security officer lobby and press his former comrades in the police department, and had a compliant politician as the prosecutor, and a business 'friendly' judge. So this party coalition of power was arrayed against one private citizen, and malcontent.

The jury decided 'malicious' defacement was not proven. This is good, not only is Mr. Olson free to express his opinions in society, it is further a precedent allowing other people to chalk sidewalks and pavement. If you walk about, you will see a common chalking is done for squares of hopscotch. The children of San Diego, and perhaps all of America, may feel no temerity in the pursuit of this sporting activity. There will not be 'chalk control' against the possession, and the criminalisation of the use, of chalk. We will be able to bear chalk.

I have in the past presented on these pages sidewalk chalkings as art [click, and here, here too]. There are a few comediannes on youtube. One of them did some travel to  Londra, Roma, Parigi, San Pietroburgo. She showed a series of images, and would describe them, "art, art, art, ____ art, art, art, ___ art".


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