An Occupy Orlando protester has been freed after spending three weeks in jail for using chalk to write on the sidewalk.
The City of Orlando dropped the charges against Timothy Michael Osmar because they said the three weeks he spent in jail was about what he would have served if convicted of the crime.
Officer Phil Scaglione and Sgt. Ernest Payne arrested Osmar on Dec. 15 after telling him that is “unlawful for any person to write, print, mark, paint, stamp or paste any sign, notice of advertisement upon the surface of any sidewalk or paved street in the city.”
“I think it’s well within our rights as citizens to express ourselves, our political views and our grievances against our government,” Osmar told WOFL.
Osmar’s attorney, Richard Wilson, said that he had planned to defend his client on the basis that “what he did didn’t violate that ordinance.”
“The city really doesn’t like the Occupiers, the Occupy Wall Street group,” Wilson explained. “That’s why they were arresting people in the Occupy group jaywalking and taking them to jail. I never heard of a jaywalker being arrested and taken to jail. I heard that two of them got tickets for speeding while they were walking.”
He added: “The is not a country where somebody should go to jail and be held without bond for writing on the sidewalk, when the city for years has allowed chalk art festivals. They were so happy with other people writing on that same sidewalk, the mayor would give out an annual award to the chalk writers, which means that if the city’s position was correct in this case, he was actually giving out an award for the best, most talented law breaker.”
Osmar promised to return to writing on the sidewalk and wants the city to give his chalk back.
The city is now allowing protesters to write on the sidewalk in front of City Hall as long as they stay within red lines.
“This is not permanently defacing any property,” protestor Jim Callahan told WDBO. “It will be washed away in the next rain storm. And if they want to do it sooner they can put a garden hose to it.”
One message on the sidewalk read: “Tim Osmar is being held as a political prisoner for doing this. Rooney stated he wasn’t convinced Omar had been charged with the appropriate charge. This is not a crime.”
Orange County deputies have been standing watch to make sure protesters only exercise their free speech rights within the designated lines.
Osmar has been arrested twice for writing on the sidewalk and once for wearing a mask in public while protesting in connection with Occupy Charlotte.
Watch this video from WOFL, broadcast Jan. 11, 2012.