sounds incredible at first blush? Is this what America has come to? Or...maybe...hopefully...is someone tryin to pull something over on us. Don't know at the moment...this just in. Checked...it's true!
Lawyer Arrested for Wearing a 'Peace' T-Shirt
NEW YORK (Reuters - 4 March) - A lawyer was arrested late Monday and charged with trespassing at a public mall in the state of New York after refusing to take off a T-shirt advocating peace that he had just purchased at the mall.
According to the criminal complaint filed on Monday, Stephen Downs was wearing a T-shirt bearing the words "Give Peace A Chance" that he had just purchased from a vendor inside the Crossgates Mall in Guilderland, New York, near Albany.
"I was in the food court with my son when I was confronted by two security guards and ordered to either take off the T-shirt or leave the mall," said Downs.
When Downs refused the security officers' orders, police from the town of Guilderland were called and he was arrested and taken away in handcuffs, charged with trespassing "in that he knowingly enter(ed) or remain(ed) unlawfully upon premises," the complaint read.
Downs said police tried to convince him he was wrong in his actions by refusing to remove the T-shirt because the mall "was like a private house and that I was acting poorly.
"I told them the analogy was not good and I was then hauled off to night court where I was arraigned after pleading not guilty and released on my own recognizance," Downs told Reuters in a telephone interview.
Downs is the director of the Albany Office of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, which investigates complaints of misconduct against judges and can admonish, censure or remove judges found to have engaged in misconduct.
Calls to the Guilderland police and district attorney, Anthony Cardona and to officials at the mall were not returned for comment.
Downs is due back in court for a hearing on March 17.
He could face up to a year in prison if convicted.
Man Arrested for Wearing Peace T-Shirt
By DAMITA CHAMBERS
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.