by | THE ASSOCIATED PRESS |
GUILDERLAND, N.Y. (AP) -- Officials at a mall where a man was arrested for refusing to remove an anti-war T-shirt asked Wednesday that trespassing charges against him be dropped.
Police said managers from Crossgates Mall called and asked that the complaint against Stephen Downs be withdrawn. Police Chief James Murley said he would support the mall's decision.
Earlier Wednesday, about 100 anti-war demonstrators marched through the mall to protest the arrest. They told a mall manager they would stop only when charges against the shopper were dropped and when the mall outlined its policy.
"We just want to know what the policy is and why it's being randomly enforced,'' said Erin O'Brien, an organizer of the noontime rally. "It's only the people in the recent months who have anti-war or peace T-shirts that are being asked to leave the mall.''
A mall spokeswoman did not return repeated calls for comment.
Downs' son, Roger, said dropping the charge would not rectify the arrest. "My father feels there's more to this. Crossgates hasn't examined what was wrong here,'' he said. "I think he'd like an apology.''
He said his father would wait to see how the mall handles the case before deciding whether to sue.
Stephen Downs, 61, and his son were stopped Monday by mall security guards and asked to remove their shirts that read "Peace on Earth'' and "Give Peace a Chance,'' or leave. Roger Downs, 31, took off his shirt. But his father, a lawyer with the state Commission on Judicial Conduct and a former Peace Corps volunteer, refused.
The guards called police, and he was charged with trespassing and pleaded innocent.
Tim Kelley, director of Operations for Pyramid Mall management, the mall's owner, said in a statement that Downs' behavior and clothing was disruptive to other shoppers.
The men had had the T-shirts made at a mall store and wore them while they shopped.