Mar 4, 2003
Man Charged With Trespassing After Refusing to Remove Pro-Peace Shirt in Mall
By Damita Chambers
Associated Press Writer
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A man was charged with trespassing in a mall after he refused to take off a T-shirt that said "Peace on Earth" and "Give peace a chance."
Mall security approached Stephen Downs, 61, and his 31-year-old son, Roger, on Monday night after they were spotted wearing the T-shirts at Crossgates Mall in a suburb of Albany, the men said.
The two said they were asked to remove the shirts made at a store there, or leave the mall. They refused.
The guards returned with a police officer who repeated the ultimatum. The son took his T-shirt off, but the father refused.
"'I said, 'All right then, arrest me if you have to,'" Downs said. "So that's what they did. They put the handcuffs on and took me away."
Downs pleaded innocent to the charges Monday night. The New York Civil Liberties Union said it would help with his case if asked.
Police Chief James Murley said his officers were just responding to a complaint by mall security.
"We don't care what they have on their shirts, but they were asked to leave the property, and it's private property," Murley said.
A mall spokeswoman did not return calls Tuesday seeking comment.
Monday's arrest came less than three months after about 20 peace activists wearing similar T-shirts were told to leave by mall security and police. There were no arrests.