Monday, September 14, 2015

Sidewalk chalk is a criminal offense?

Attention all you California parents –

Back in 2013 [this is only two years ago, folks], if your child's sidewalk chalk drawings included negative opinions, s/he could have been branded a criminal, with the possibility of 10 years in prison.

The San Diego City Attorney brought charges against a man for vandalism because he wrote “Shame on Bank of America” and "No thanks, big banks" in chalk on the sidewalk outside a Bank of America branch.

This case actually went to trial.

Now, no one asked ME, but my gut reaction is that this is an expression of this man's opinion, and probably even political speech, which is the highest form of constitutionally protected speech. Not to mention, we're not talking about spray paint here.  It's sidewalk chalk!

The judge, for reasons known only to him and God, ruled this was NOT a free speech issue.  He also issued a gag order preventing the parties, attorneys, and witnesses from talking about the case until it was over.

Fortunately, the good citizens of San Diego, not willing to allow the government to run roughshod over their free speech rights without a fight, staged a protest outside the Hall of Justice [a courthouse I have been to on several occasions], which involved LOTS of sidewalk chalk.

In 2013, Mom and Dad had to keep a watchful eye on their kids, especially if they went outside with a box of weapons sidewalk chalk.

I hate broccoli” - criminal prosecution

My sister is a dweeb” - criminal prosecution

Can't we all just get along?” - depending on whether any sarcasm is detected – criminal prosecution.

Fortunately, the good citizens of San Diego county who were NOT able to get out of jury duty, were smarter than the City Attorney and found the man NOT GUILTY.

Your child's freedom to complain about his siblings on the sidewalk is secure. 

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