A rally was held over the weekend in support of Jeff Olson, a 40-year-old San Diego man being prosecuted by the city for writing anti-big bank messages in water-soluble chalk. Attendees reportedly turned out near the city's Hall of Justice, writing colorful chalk messages decrying the charges.
"This is NOT vandalism" and "Freedom of Speech," read the bright chalk letters, according to NBC San Diego.
The arguments in Olson's trial closed on Friday, and a jury is currently deliberating. Olson faces 13 counts of misdemeanor vandalism, charges that together could carry a 13-year jail sentence or $13,000 in fines. The judge in the case ruled that Olson's defense couldn't argue a First Amendment defense, as vandalism is not protected by free speech, and on Thursday, issued a gag order to prevent him and others involved in the case from speaking to the press.
Around 100 people turned out to Saturday's event, the San Diego Free Press reported. San Diego's KGTV reported that police monitored the protest and allowed demonstrators designated space to write their messages in chalk. Olson even made an appearance at the rally, according to NBC San Diego, with a piece of tape reading "gag order" placed over his mouth.
Olson isn't the only one facing legal trouble for waxing political with sidewalk chalk. An activist was arrested in Pennsylvania last week for writing a washable pro-health care message outside the state house. Authorities later withdrew their citation, however, noting that it cost less than $100 to remove the chalk.