Federal Court Recognizes Chalking Freedom in Orlando

Tim Osmar arrested for chalking, Dec 15 2011

After a cost of eighteen days in a cage and a few months of legal threats, there is good news to report on chalking freedom out of Orlando, Florida. The ABA Journal published yesterday that Timothy Osmar, who was twice arrested for chalking at the Orlando city hall plaza, had his rights violated when he was legally kidnapped over protected political speech. US district magistrate David Baker’s ruling deemed the arrest for violation of a city ordinance to be an overreach of a code designed to prevent unauthorized commercial advertising. Unlike NH, Florida’s towns and cities are endowed with the power to write words powerful enough to invoke arrest for their violation.

Prior to the decision Friday, Orlando officials indicated that they would be appealing an “adverse ruling”. The city would find it difficult to play a purer than thou antichalk attitude in this case. Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer encouraged downtown businesses to chalk their sidewalks in support of the home team Magic when they were in the NBA playoffs in 2009. The city also permits a yearly chalk art festival held by the local Rotary Club. David Baker told Orlando bureaucrats, “The city may not selectively interpret and enforce the ordinance based on its own desire to further the causes of particular favored speakers.”

Mayor Dyer did not seem thoroughly interested in the deeper constitutional and moral issues regarding chalking arrests. His comment, while charges were pending was, “This was a guy who wanted to be arrested, by all accounts, and has been… This guy was given every opportunity not to go to jail, but he chose to go to jail.” Such a statement from the city’s highest ranking official implies that Dyer’s officers are permitted to make contempt-of-cop arrests.

After he was released for the second time in January, the Orlando Sentinel printed this inspiring article about Tim’s persistence in his right to chalk. He was first arrested on December 15 and returned to city hall after his release on December 22 to chalk again. After writing “All I want for Christmas is a revolution”, he was returned to a cage. The day after a lawyer offered to take his case pro bono, and entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf, the charge of illegal advertising was dropped, and he was released. Three months later, there is now a federal court ruling stating that chalked speech (at least in circumstances similiar to Mr. Osmar’s case) is protected speech.

Mayanne Downs is an attorney who works for the politicians known collectively as the city of Orlando, and she was tasked with spinning the judge’s ruling as favorably towards the city’s enforcement arm as possible. While Tim Osmar was originally arrested for the crime of “writing or painting advertizing matter”, the city did not pursue other similarly vague charges against him. In the time between the dropping of the charge in January and the federal ruling, Mayanne tried her best to discourage chalking, but assuredly Orlando activists called her bluff. After his release, her office commented that chalkers are still at risk of being arrested, “I hope people don’t do that — there are better ways to protest. Why not hold a sign? But we have to apply our ordinances in as consistent a way as possible.” Now that the ruling has been handed down, the position she puts fourth is, “The ruling doesn’t address the other ordinances that Mr. Osmar violated.” Perhaps this is how Orlando officials announce that they are building up the fortitude to violate more people’s rights.

“It’s something that I feel, and that a lot of rational people think, is our right as citizens…I still believe I did the right thing. I’m okay with being arrested again.” Among other chalkings by Tim read, “The revolution will not be televised” and “It’s not graffiti. It’s democracy.”

A friend poses with a chalking supporting Tim Osmar outside an Orlando courthouse.

This article was originally published at FreeConcord.org.



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  • He was arrested for “violating a city ordinance that prohibits writing or painting “advertising matter” on city streets and sidewalks…”


  • t.

    Good to know. Note to self….sit down with city attorney and get ordinance passed to prohibit this directly. Yeah, that’ll fix them good…..

  • Accountability

    If we go along with the warped “line of thinking” of some city officials across the nation, you could be arrested for defacing city property for spilling a few drops of water on the sidewalk. ^^

    Enacting some of their anti constitutional laws, many inept officials from the three branches of government seriously believe that “the people” are there to serve them. ^^

  • wageslave1

    How typical of your pig self t. Only you could cheer on petty ass so called crimes!!

  • Common Sense

    I was going to talk to a legislator an get a law repealed, but I wanted to play with sidewalk chalk instead. This is the way to change government.

  • Angry

    Now guys, your bosses have said that chalking is a right. You should obey your orders and stop having your own opinions if you want to keep your jobs.

  • Stephen Powell

    Chalktrail: Bike add-on combines cycling and sidewalk chalk art

    Kids love creating art almost as much as they love getting out on their bikes, but with this approach choosing what to do doesn’t have to be an either/or decision. The Chalktrail is an add-on which turns any bike or scooter into an artistic tool by holding a stick of chalk which is pressed to the ground behind you as you ride, leaving a colorful trail showing where you’ve been.


  • Ardith Postel

    Being a Lawyer does not make you more capable of negotiating loan modification. It has truly amazed me being a Mortgage Professional over 13 years how we licensed Real Estate Professionals are not capable of negotiating reduced payments and terms for homeowners. Please be advised these are the same Professionals who could present contracts, calculate income and debt, collect financial statement and documentation, contact various Lenders, communicate with Sellers and Buyers. What a load of crap that Lawyers are the only capable and knowledgeable party to negotiate these now so legal binding contracts. Lawyers use their title to get into areas they see money. I have been messed over by so many so-called high power “I can get done” Attorneys in my day. Title do not make you capable it is knowledge of your Profession. I see it like this where the money is just like the Real Estate Brokers who need money so follows the Attorneys who need money. Get a good knowledgeable and reputable Loan Modification Company that can assist you; bottom line use good judgment when hiring anyone.

  • Jim

    This is from the rethuglican party of “small government” and “freedom” that run this state. (into the ground) Not surprising at all considering the sheep in FL voted an un-indicted co conspirator to the largest medicare fraud in U.S. history into the governors mansion.

  • Speezo

    Common Sense says:
    April 17, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    I was going to talk to a legislator an get a law repealed, but I wanted to play with sidewalk chalk instead. This is the way to change government.

    Since when do lawmakers repeal laws?

  • Speezo


    Agreeing with what the government tells you is a certain way to make sure that they have control and the people don’t.

    Check out some documentaries on how effective it really is to petition a Congressman. Without a proper lobbyist some would argue it is wholly impossible to get their attention but if you want to believe in the fallacy that they are fielding letters and talking to constituents (who don’t donate cash) on the regular then go for it.

    I applaud the guy for standing his ground and seeing this garbage through like a boss would. It takes a man to stand up for his own beliefs. It takes a drone like common to stand up for some thing because it is “law.”

  • Speezo

    been reading some great stuff from Bradley Jarvis but noticed a great post by him was done way back in 2010. I am relatively new to Copblock and don’t know if it was big at the time or if many of the other posters have read his post. So, I am reposting it :)


    Big ups to B-Rad!

  • paschn

    I wish I could somehow make people understand that, although isolated incidents of treachery/cowardice perpetrated by the S.I.B. are disgusting, the CORE issue is what to do when they are given the chance to slaughter any who refuse giving up their weapons,pervert constitutional dissent….use their badges as an excuse to make up for withered penises…make them,(as well as the badge-licker wannabe’s), realize that they are making it possible for the very ones causing this mess to destroy their country. I don’t know if it’s because their parents dropped them on their heads when they were infants or they think it’s cute to be able to get away with it….But not all cops are as rotten/treasonous as those we have…


  • copper top

    Wahoo glad to hear such good news for tim. We need to wake more people up to whats going on in this country.