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Tempest in a t-shirt

The Smoking Gun has the police report about that guy who was arrested for wearing a peace T-shirt and refusing to leave the mall he was in. The police report implies that Mr. Downs was causing a disturbance.

As the right wing rushes to link to the police report, I just thought I’d point out that it’s not actually very conclusive. The first statement is from a store detective got a complaint about a verbal dispute; the complaint didn’t include any details about who started it. The store detective didn’t investigate. He just went back and called mall security to warn them about the dangerous T-shirt wearers. Yeah, that’s a balanced response.

The second statement, from a mall security guy, spends half the page describing the problem shirts in detail before getting to the real issue — Mr. Downs and his son were stopping people. Mind you, the security guy was predisposed to blame Mr. Downs, since the store detective reported the guys in T-shirts rather than the verbal dispute. Kind of like a game of telephone, huh?

Without bothering to investigate the situation, he promptly told the pair to remove their shirts and stop bothering people. OK, let’s do a hypothetical. Let’s say that Mr. Downs was wearing an American eagle on his T-shirt, with a ‘Nuke Saddam’ slogan. Let’s say he was stopping people in the mall.

Think there’s a chance in hell the security guy would have focused on the T-shirt? Nah, me either.

The statement isn’t detailed enough to figure out what Mr. Downs said at that point, other than that he refused. Refused to take off the T-shirt? Refused to quit stopping people? I dunno. For a security guard who was capable of remembering and detailing exactly what the T-shirts said, he got pretty damned vague here.

Finally, despite the police claim on the first page of the report, neither the store detective or the security guard reported complaints that Mr. Downs was stopping other shoppers. The security guard reported that he saw Mr. Downs stopping other shoppers. I’d think you’d want to get the actual complaints in the report, since the justification in this case is that Mr. Downs was bothering people. In fact, shouldn’t there be statements from some of the people he was bothering?

It’s flimsy. It does sound like Mr. Downs was being a bit of a jerk, but it also sounds like the mall was damned quick to rush to a decision.


  1. Henry Henry

    It’s probably worth noting, too: the facts, as filed before the court, state that the T-shirt slogans were “Give Peace a Chance” and “Give the Inspectors a Chance.” The store detective at Macy’s reported the slogans as “Peace on Earth” and “No War with Iraq.”

    Of course, this is a report recorded an hour and a half after the actual complaint was filed–so notably after the incident–based on what an “older” customer told her. So there’s no need to form intricate conspiracies about different men or lying store detectives; but it’s worth noting the effects of memory in this instance.

    (Also, the “security guy” is named Katie Light. Probably not a security guy.)

  2. Henry Henry

    (ooop, sorry, “security guy” is in reference to the second statement, and it’s the first statement that was Katie’s. But you did refer to her as “he” anyway, so.)

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