The Monster in My Back Yard

I heard this on the local news last night and I’m glad that CNN.com picked it up.
From that story:
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 remember a very similar thing happening during the first Bush war. Crossgates Mall is one of the mega-malls that I never go to unless my mother insists on being taken to Lord and Taylors.
As area resident myrln emailed:
A complaint by the shopkeeper was sufficient to mark them as creating a disturbance and when asked to leave by mall security, they refused and were arrested for trespassing. Creating a disturbance at the mall is apparently a crime. Welcome to America, the Land of the Free, Stupid, and Arrogant. Kiss My Country ‘Tis of Thee a fond farewell; we are hard down the road to fascism, and meanwhile, the Congress is silent…covering their political asses. Every incumbent needs to be defeated next election…tho’ they’ll only be replaced by clones. Feh…this is far worse than the Vietnam era ever was.
I want to wear my Peace t-shirt that I made after 9/11, but I’m afraid if I wear it in public, I’ll get arrested. And then who’ll take care of my mother?
Feh.

6 thoughts on “The Monster in My Back Yard

  1. If you wear that T-shirt and keep to public property you can not be arrested. The lawyers problem is that he wasn’t on public property, he was on private property. On private property you do not have any rights to free speech. the 1st ammendment is only a constitutonal guarantee that the government won’t infringe on your right, not a private landowner. In substance the case of this lawyer is no different than if a stranger showed up in your yard with a t-shirt on that advocated violence against women. I’m sure you would ask that person to leave and if he didn’t you would be well within your rights to have him/her arrested.
    In the case of this lawyer it is irelevant that he actually bought the t-shirt in the mall. What is pertinent is that (a) he was on private property (b) he was asked to either remove the t-shirt or leave the mall and (c) he refused to do both. Most malls have a notice somewhere that they can refuse the right to serve anyone or ask anyone to leave the premises. I doubt he’ll win his court case if he does sue.
    None of the above makes the actions of the mall any the less reprehensible, to say nothing of being a really dumb business move, but they did have every right to do as they did.

  2. “What is pertinent is that (a) he was on private property…”
    Well, that’s not quite true. It is private property but all the public is invited to come on in! Not like one’s house at all, and the courts recognize that.

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