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Arrested for wearing a "Peace" T-Shirt

by richard in Denver Thursday, Mar. 06, 2003 at 10:56 PM

One citizen in court for exercising free speech, another court says news networks can lie.

Free Speech is not free, we must fight for it. (Two stories here -- Peace T-shirt, and Fox News)


Man arrested for 'peace' T-shirt

CNN / Reuters

Tuesday, March 4, 2003 Posted: 9:52 PM EST (0252 GMT)

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 "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.

Downs is the director of the Albany Office of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, which investigates complaints of misconduct against judges and can admonish, censure or remove judges found to have engaged in misconduct.

Calls to the Guilderland police and district attorney, Anthony Cardona and to officials at the mall were not returned for comment.

Downs is due back in court for a hearing on March 17.

He could face up to a year in prison if convicted.



Group Protests N.Y. Peace T - Shirt Arrest


Filed at 2:46 p.m. ET

GUILDERLAND, N.Y. (AP) -- About 100 people descended upon a suburban Albany mall Wednesday to protest the arrest of a man who wore a peace T-shirt while he shopped.

The group marched through Crossgates mall at noontime, and at one point, there was a confrontation in the food court between one of the marchers and a man carrying a sign that read ``9-11.'' There were no immediate arrests.

The ``Mall Walk for Peace'' drew people from several peace groups -- Women Against War, Upper Hudson Peace Action and Capital District for Justice and Peace.

``We just want to know what the policy is and why it's being randomly enforced,'' said Erin O'Brien, an organizer for Women Against War. No security guards were visible as the protesters gathered at the food court, walked past several stores and then to mall offices, where some began dispersing.

Protest leaders expected to meet with the mall manager at 1:30 p.m.

A mall spokeswoman did not return repeated calls Tuesday and Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Stephen Downs, 61, of Selkirk, was arrested Monday on a trespassing charge after wearing a T-shirt saying ``Peace on Earth'' and ``Give Peace a Chance'' in Crossgates Mall. He and his 31-year-old son, Roger, had T-shirts with anti-war messages made at a mall store and wore them while they shopped.

Mall security guards told the men to remove their shirts or leave the mall. The son took his T-shirt off, but Downs refused. Police arrested Downs after mall security said he was causing a disturbance.

Downs, of the Albany County hamlet of Selkirk, pleaded innocent Monday night to trespassing.

Guilderland Town Police Chief James Murley said his officers were just responding to a complaint by mall security. He said the mall can decide to press charges against anyone who refuses to comply with a request to leave because it is private property.

On Dec. 21, about two dozen people from Upper Hudson Peace Action, walking in groups of two to three and wearing T-shirts that read ``Peace on Earth'' and ``Don't Invade Iraq,'' were told to leave by mall security and the police, but there were no arrests.



Indymedia T-shirt arrest coverage


(several links there)


On another topic, Fox News (that bastion of "fairness") wins in court:

Appellate Court Rules Media Can Legally Lie.

By Mike Gaddy

Published 02. 28. 03 at 19:31 Sierra Time

On February 14, a Florida Appeals court ruled there is absolutely nothing illegal about lying, concealing or distorting information by a major press organization. The court reversed the 5,000 jury verdict in favor of journalist Jane Akre who charged she was pressured by Fox Television management and lawyers to air what she knew and documented to be false information. The ruling basically declares it is technically not against any law, rule, or regulation to deliberately lie or distort the news on a television broadcast.

On August 18, 2000, a six-person jury was unanimous in its conclusion that Akre was indeed fired for threatening to report the station's pressure to broadcast what jurors decided was "a false, distorted, or slanted" story about the widespread use of growth hormone in dairy cows. The court did not dispute the heart of Akre's claim, that Fox pressured her to broadcast a false story to protect the broadcaster from having to defend the truth in court, as well as suffer the ire of irate advertisers.

Fox argued from the first, and failed on three separate occasions, in front of three different judges, to have the case tossed out on the grounds there is no hard, fast, and written rule against deliberate distortion of the news. The attorneys for Fox, owned by media baron Rupert Murdock, argued the First Amendment gives broadcasters the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on the public airwaves.

In its six-page written decision, the Court of Appeals held that the Federal Communications Commission position against news distortion is only a "policy," not a promulgated law, rule, or regulation.

Fox aired a report after the ruling saying it was "totally vindicated" by the verdict.


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