|Wednesday, March 05,
ALBANY, N.Y. — A man wearing
a "Peace on Earth, Give Peace a Chance" T-shirt in a shopping
mall says he was arrested because he refused to take the shirt
off, but the mall says he was nabbed for bothering other
Security guards 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, N.Y., the men said.
The two said they were asked to remove the
shirts made at a store there — or leave the mall. They
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."
A statement released by the mall painted a
different picture of what happened.
"Crossgates Mall security received a
complaint regarding two individuals disrupting customers. The
individuals were approached by security because of their
actions and interference with other shoppers," the statement
"Their behavior, coupled with their
clothing to express to others their personal views on world
affairs, were disruptive of customers."
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.
The mall said that as a private property,
it has the court-approved right "to restrict actions and
behaviors deemed inconsistent with its intended purpose."
Crossgates Mall's rules "strictly prohibit
loitering, disorderly or disruptive conduct, harassment,
offensive language, fighting or any illegal activity," the
statement read. "The Mall will not tolerate violations of
these regulations. In this instance, mall management, given
the information provided to them, determined the customers in
question were violating mall policy."
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
The Associated Press contributed to this