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'Peace' T-shirt gets man arrested

Stephen Downs, right, and his son hold the T-shirts they purchased at the mall.
Stephen Downs, right, and his son hold the T-shirts they purchased at the mall.

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NEW YORK (Reuters) -- 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 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.

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 and he could face up to a year in prison if convicted.



Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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