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Man claims arrest was for anti-war T-shirt

March 31, 2008 at 7:55 PM

LAKE GROVE, N.Y., March 31 (UPI) -- An 80-year-old man says he was arrested at a Lake Grove, N.Y., mall for wearing a T-shirt protesting the war in Iraq.

Don Zirkel, who once served in the Army as well as in the New York Division of Human Rights under former Gov. Mario Cuomo, said he wore his T-shirt -- which features red splotches and the words "4,000 troops, 1 million Iraqis dead. Enough." -- to an anti-war rally outside the Smith Haven Mall, New York Newsday reported Monday.

However, he said mall security approached him after he and his wife entered the food court to seek coffee and French fries. Zirkel, whose nephew recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq, said he refused the security officers' orders to turn his shirt inside out or leave the mall, and Suffolk County police were called to escort him from the premises.

Zirkel, who denies police allegations he was distributing fliers in the mall, has been charged with criminal trespassing and resisting arrest. He is to be arraigned May 22.

"I'm being punished for six words that spoke the truth. That's insanity. War is insanity," Zirkel said. "I'm wearing the T-shirt again."

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