Wednesday, March 05, 2003

This just arrived from one of my email correspondents. I had to keep checking that I was really on, it's so unbelievable. I thought maybe I was on the Onion, but this is no satire:

Man arrested for 'peace' T-shirt -
NEW YORK (Reuters) -- 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 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 ... 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."
As I'm sure Mr. Downs knows, and the town of Guilderland is about to find out, a mall is not "like a private house" - According to the U.S. Supreme Court it is a quasi-public space and your constitutional right to free speech cannot be abridged.

The case that set that standard is known as Pruneyard, and comes from a shopping center here in San Jose. A Vietnam era protest included passing out photos of children mutilated by U.S. bombing. The court said that while the protest may have been in poor taste, it was within the law and the Pruneyard management had no right to kick the offenders out.

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