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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 5 March, 2003, 22:25 GMT
'Peace T-shirt' row sparks protest
Protesters sit in the food court of the Crossgates Mall
Protesters want an explanation
About 100 people have marched through a shopping mall near New York in protest after a man wearing a T-shirt advocating peace was arrested.

Stephen Downs was briefly detained on Monday, after he refused to take off a T-shirt saying 'Give a Peace a Chance'.

Local security guards at the Crossgates Mall in Guilderland called police, and the 61-year-old lawyer was taken away in handcuffs and charged with trespassing.

Mr Downs pleaded not guilty and has been released, but has to attend a court hearing on 17 March.

"We just want to know what the policy is and why it's being randomly enforced, " protest organiser Erin O'Brien was quoted as saying by the Washington Post newspaper.

'Wrong actions'

Mr Downs said he had just purchased the T-Shirt at the mall when the incident happened.

We don't care what they [Mr Downs and his son] have on their shirts, but they were asked to leave the property, and it's private property
James Murley, Guilderland police officer

"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," he said.

Mr Downs said that when the police arrived they tried to convince him he was wrong in his actions, before making the arrest.

According to the criminal complaint, Mr Downs was charged with trespassing "in that he knowingly enter(ed) or remain(ed) unlawfully upon premises".

"We don't care what they [Mr Downs and his son] have on their shirts," local police officer James Murley was quoted by Washington Post as saying.

"But they were asked to leave the property, and it's private property".

If convicted, Mr Downs faces up to a year in prison.


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