Upstate New York Mall Drops Peace T-Shirt Charges
By Jeanne King
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The owner of a shopping mall where a lawyer was arrested this week
after refusing to take off a T-shirt advocating peace on Thursday opted to drop trespassing charges against him.
Stephen Downs, 61, was detained
on Monday after security guards at the Crossgates Mall near Albany, N.Y., ordered him to take off his shirt that read "Give
Peace A Chance" and "Peace on Earth" or leave the mall.
When he refused, security
guards called local police, who handcuffed Downs, arrested him and held him for two hours.
The mall owner has changed
its mind, and the charges will be dropped, said Guilderland, N.Y., Police Chief James Murley.
"This is a no-win situation,"
the police chief said.
Downs, who is director of
the Albany office of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct that investigates complaints of misconduct against judges, said
his arrest attracted worldwide attention and he fielded calls from Canada and Europe. The furor also drew the attention of
late night television host Jay Leno (news - Y! TV).
Downs also said he would like
an apology from the mall owners.
Crossgates Mall is owned by
Pyramid Mall Management, headed by Chief Executive Officer Robert Congel, according to a spokesman.
On Wednesday, about a hundred
demonstrators marched through the mall to protest Downs' arrest and told a mall manager they wouldn't stop until charges were
Earl Wells, a spokesman for
the mall owner, defended the guards, saying the mall is private property and there is a policy of asking people who display
anti-war messages on their clothes to leave.
Downs and his 31-year-old
son Roger both bought the T-shirts at the mall for $23 apiece. The younger man took his shirt off at the guards' request.