- The security officer at Crossgates Mall who signed a
trespassing complaint against a war protester was fired Friday.
- Robert Williams said he was called into the mall security
office about four hours into his shift and told he was fired because of
Monday's incident and for signing the complaint against Steve Downs, 60,
- Downs' arrest brought Crossgates national notoriety and
sparked a protest march against the facility's policies. He was arrested
for trespassing when mall officials told him to leave or remove an anti-war
T-shirt he had purchased there.
- On Wednesday, amid a protest over Downs' arrest, officials
from Pyramid Management Group, which operates the mall, said they would
drop the charge against Downs.
- Williams, who has worked in security at the mall for
more than nine years, said he signed the complaint on the orders of his
boss, assistant director of security Fred Tallman. Those orders came after
Tallman told the Guilderland police officer working the case that he (Tallman)
was too busy to come to the police station and that Williams represented
the company and should sign.
- "I just followed directions of management of that
mall to the letter," Williams said Friday evening. "And I get
fired for doing my job."
- Mall officials did not return phone calls Friday evening
seeking comment. Guilderland Police Chief James Murley also did not respond
to a request for comment.
- Williams said it was Tallman who made the decision on
Monday to have Downs arrested if he and his son, Roger Downs, 31, refused
to take off T-shirts that bore peace slogans.
- Williams said security had received a call from Macy's
security that there had been a confrontation with two men wearing anti-war
T-shirts. Williams said he spotted the men near the food court and that
about the same time, a Guilderland police officer showed up. "We had
not called them (town police), but the two of us talked to them,"
- Over a period of time, it became clear, Williams said,
that the elder Downs was not going to take off the T-shirt or leave the
mall. Williams said he received orders over the mall's radio that if they
refused, they were to be charged with trespassing.
- When Steve Downs was taken to the police substation in
the mall, the paperwork was written up. Tallman was contacted by the officer,
Williams said, and told the officer to have Williams sign the complaint
because "he represents the company so he can sign."
- News of the arrest sparked a protest Wednesday by anti-war
demonstrators, most of whom wore T-shirts. Mall officials did not meet
with the protesters but announced later that day that they would drop charges
- Williams has been honored by the town for his service
at the mall and on two occasions, after leaving for other work that fell
through, the mall rehired him for security posts.
- "My work record speaks for itself," Williams
said in his own defense. "And I've already been told they're not going
to pay unemployment so I shouldn't even file."
- He said that after he was fired, he was handed paperwork,
known as "write-ups," to sign, but he refused. The write-ups
were in relation to Monday's incident.
- Williams said he had been verbally reprimanded this week
over a Saturday incident in which he tried keep out a man who previously
had been banned from the mall. He said there also was a court order banning
him from the mall.
- But Williams was told to let the man in because he had
been hired as a maintenance worker. "Because of that, I was just going
to follow orders," he said about the Monday arrest.
- "I guess that when it comes down to it," he
added, "It's the people who sign the paperwork who get the blame,
not the people who told you to do it."