Target: Bob Filner, Mayor of San Diego
Goal: Thank Bob Filner for speaking up in defense of activist Jeff Olson, who was unjustly prosecuted for writing anti-bank messages on the sidewalk in chalk.
San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith charged Jeff Olson with 13 counts of vandalism for writing anti-bank messages in children’s washable chalk outside of three San Diego Bank of America Branches. According to the LA Times, Judge Howard Shore then barred Olson or his defense from mentioning the First Amendment during trial proceedings; he also issued a gag order preventing any public officials from commenting on the case. However, one official refused to be gagged: Bob Filner, Mayor of San Diego.
Furthermore, the LA Times reports that Filner called Goldsmith’s case “nonsense prosecution…stupid…a waste of money.” When questioned about the validity of charging Olson with graffiti vandalism, Filner stated “It’s chalk. It’s water-soluble chalk. They were political slogans.” Olson’s slogans featured cartoons and written messages such as “Stop the Big Banks.” The jury seemed to agree with Mayor Filner; on Monday, July 1st, Olson was acquitted of all charges. By refusing to be intimidated and by speaking his mind, Mayor Bob Filner showed the people of San Diego that he believes in free speech and free political expression. By standing with Jeff Olson, Mayor Bob Filner stood with America. Thank San Diego Mayor Bob Filner for speaking out against the unethical and unnecessary prosecution of Jeff Olson.
Dear Mayor Bob Filner,
As a former civil rights activist, you entered the mayoral office with a democratic attitude. By speaking out against the unethical and unnecessary prosecution of Jeff Olson for writing anti-bank propaganda on city sidewalks in water soluble chalk, you spoke out against the danger of prosecution people’s actions on the basis of their beliefs.
Olson damaged no property; he simply exercised his right to free speech. By refusing to adhere to Judge Shore’s gag order, you showed the people of San Diego that they, too, can refuse to be intimidated against speaking out against injustice. The jury clearly shared your opinion that Jeff Olson’s prosecution and trial was indeed a waste of money. Although Bank of America intimidated the City into pressing charges, you refused to be intimidated into supporting these charges.
As an elected official, your opinion and your voice matter more than those of the average citizen. Thank you for standing up and speaking out in favor of free speech and free political expression.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: FreeSpeechReasonProgress via Wikimedia Commons