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The World | SHOWDOWN WITH IRAQ

Man's Antiwar T-Shirt Lands Him in Custody

March 05, 2003|From Reuters

NEW YORK — A lawyer was arrested and charged with trespassing at a public mall after refusing to take off a T-shirt advocating peace that he had just purchased at the mall.

According to the criminal complaint filed Monday night, 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, N.Y., 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," Downs said.

When Downs refused the security officers' orders, police from the town of Guilderland were called and he was arrested and taken away in handcuffs, accused of 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."

Downs, who pleaded not guilty at his arraignment, is the director of the Albany Office of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, which investigates complaints of misconduct against judges. Police, a local prosecutor and mall officials were not available for comment. Downs could face up to a year in prison if convicted.

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