80 Year Old Man Arrested For Wearing Anti-war T-shirt In Mall

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Among the many milestones in Don Zirkel's life - serving in the Army; editing The Tablet, the Diocese of Brooklyn's newspaper; and working in the state Division of Human Rights under Gov. Mario Cuomo - perhaps the most famous will now be his arrest at the food court in Smith Haven Mall.

"Eighty years, and I have never been arrested before for fighting injustice," Zirkel, of Bethpage, said yesterday.

On Saturday, Zirkel, 80, was at an anti-war rally outside the mall in Lake Grove, wearing a white T-shirt splotched with red and emblazoned with a simple message about the fatalities of the Iraq war: "4,000 troops, 1 million Iraqis dead. Enough."

Zirkel said he was at the rally to support the anti-war protesters. "I was an encourager. I was an affirmer," he said.

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During the rally, Zirkel and his wife went into the mall's food court for coffee and French fries. After he declined mall security's request to either turn the T-shirt inside out or leave, he said police put him in a wheelchair and escorted him from the mall. Suffolk police charged him with criminal trespassing and resisting arrest. He was released on bail and is due to be arraigned May 22 in Central Islip.

Police also said Zirkel was passing out leaflets at the mall, a charge he disputes. Mall officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

"I'm being punished for six words that spoke the truth. That's insanity. War is insanity," said Zirkel, who said his nephew recently returned from active duty in Iraq.

"I'm wearing the T-shirt again," he added.

Full article here.

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