So much for free speech in the US: Lawyer arrested over anti-war T-shirt

Times Online: Shooting the messenger: lawyer arrested over anti-war T-shirt

POLICE have arrested a 60-year-old lawyer wearing a T-shirt saying “Give Peace A Chance”.
A judge charged Stephen Downs with trespassing after he politely declined to leave the Crossgates Mall in a suburb of Albany, New York State, on Monday evening, or remove his top, which he had had printed there.

Mr Downs pleaded not guilty and cited his right to free speech. He could face up to a year in prison. His son, Roger, 31, avoided arrest by removing a T-shirt saying “No War With Iraq” on one side and “Let Inspections Work” on the other.

His father’s second offending message was: “Peace On Earth.” “We weren’t talking to people or handing out leaflets,” Mr Downs Jr told a local newspaper. “My point was I’m not trying to convert anybody,” his father said.

6 thoughts on “So much for free speech in the US: Lawyer arrested over anti-war T-shirt”

  1. Khalid Mohammed

    The newspapers are right when they say he was wearing a T-shirt. But what the big newspapers don’t tell you is that customers were complaining that the pair were actually stopping people and arguing with them. Mall guards asked father and son to either stop or leave the premises. One did, one didn’t, and was eventually arrested. He was booked at a substation in the mall, advised to leave the premises after the booking, but was then re-arrested for trespass when he refused to do so.

    You can see four pages of source documents at The Smoking Gun:

    Why do you trust corporate media to tell you the truth? Haven’t you realized by now that they want you to help preserve French/Russian oil money? QUESTION AUTHORITY!

  2. In the USA, malls and private businesses are private property. If someone asks you to leave, and you don’t you are subject to arrest. It has nothing to do with Free Speech. They guy was making a scene, and was asked to leave. I wore a t-shirt with something not nice on it to a mall once (something like ‘go’ on the front, ‘f*** yourself’ on the back). They asked me to leave, I did – I wasn’t arrested. If I had stayed, sure shootin’ the rent a cops would have escorted me off the premises or called the locals to throw me in the pokey.

  3. Nice free country you have then.

    About the “evidence” posted earlier, its the complaint. If you take the complaint for the truth, then you are ignoring that any case put before court has AT LEAST two sides.

    In this case it seems they were in the Food court when stopped by two security gards and asked to leave, let me quote CNN:


    “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.

    “I told them the analogy was not good and I was then hauled off to night court where I was arraigned after pleading not guilty and released on my own recognizance,” Downs told Reuters in a telephone interview.

    —–end quote———-


  4. Khalid,

    If they should not trust sources like the CNN, who should americans then turn to?

    Judging from the americans I know, I’d guess that free speach would reach as far as into a private mall? Isn’t the free speach sort of the foundation for the whole US society? What has private property got to do with that?


  5. Well, news told that 20 year old reports

    from rather unserious and questionable Security

    Police (the same ones who might have assassinated

    the Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme)regarding author/journalist/”bleeding heart liberal” Jan

    Guillou effectively had him deported from the

    airport without prior warning from the American

    Embassy in Stockholm and banned from ever entering

    American territory again – he almost were put into

    Custody along with most people being Arabic or looking Arabic at the Airport. Guillou swears

    he will never enter American land ever again, and

    urges Europeans who are going abroad to think

    through very carefully if their affiliations,views

    and conscience could be brought into question or suspicion by such a Fascist country. A bit emotional that last bit. Anyways it might be we

    Europeans wont be welcome in America after George Bush Jr.`s last incentive speech, were he basically admitted to his ambitions of dividing the entire world into two categories “For” and “Against” Hussain, Against being defined as completely mute and deaf of whatever American does. Let`s face it, we are heading for a situation worse than the Vietnam War.

    If Europeans arent welcome in America,its only justice that Americans and especially the American President isnt welcome in Europe.. perhaps we shant have “his grace” over to Oslo after all, perhaps we shall have to send him back home at the Airport.

  6. Well, it seems that in America a free speech is when u support the administration in everything it does, without thinking and without questioning, when u dont it’s no longer any free speech. As 2 the war with Iraq, even little children know that it’s mainly all about the oil. Weapons of mass destruction? Dont make me laugh!!

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